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This article was published on December 23, 2022

Mainland Europe finally gets its first satellite launch facility

It's located at the Esrange Space Center in Sweden


Mainland Europe finally gets its first satellite launch facility
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
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Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

On January 13, 2023, Spaceport Esrange — mainland Europe’s first satellite launch facility — will be inaugurated in Sweden. This marks a critical milestone for the continent’s space industry.

Spaceport Esrange will provide the European Space Agency (ESA) with an independent getaway to the stars, enhancing its current capabilities in French Guiana.

At first, the spaceport will be used to launch satellites into orbit.

“Satellites are decisive for many functions of the daily lives of today’s modern world, and the need for them will only increase in the years to come with space playing an even more important role,” Stefan Gardefjord, CEO of the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), said in a press release.

According to the SSC’s data, around 10,000 new satellites are expected to be launched over the next few years. By 2040, their total number could reach 100,000 — a 1,900% increase compared with the operational satellites in orbit today.

Mainland Europe will get its first satellite launch facility
Spaceport Esrange under construction in November 2021. Credit: Copyright SSC

Spaceport Esrange will also host testing of the ESA’s Themis program, which is Europe’s initiative for reusable rocketry. Themis’ reusable space launcher will start first-stage tests, seeking to achieve vehicle liftoff and recovery.

Finally, the facility will be used for suborbital test launches of various next-gen rockets.

Thanks to the above, Spaceport Esrange will help establish the continent’s resilience in space. As per Gardefjord, it will enable a “secure, competitive, and sustainable Europe.”

The launch of Spaceport Esrange will also be a huge positive for startups working in this sector. Not only will there be ample business opportunities, there’s also the question of talent. Having a launch facility will require skilled operators, many of whom will move into different companies, spreading their expertise across the whole continent and helping accelerate and grow Europe’s space sector.

At the moment, Spaceport Esrange is trying to attract satellite owners and orbital rocket manufacturers for potential partnerships. The first satellite launch is expected late 2023.

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