Rymdforum 2019 – Meeting Place for the Swedish Space Community

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Despite many interesting topics and news at the forum, the most interesting topic was without a doubt the Swedish Space Community’s plan to develop Esrange intended to launch small satellites within the next few years, and the new trend in terms of both small satellites and small launchers.

The Swedish biennial events for the space related community in Sweden was held in the town Trollhättan in the southern Sweden, known as the home for GKN Aerospace Sweden AB. This biennial conference has never been for a special group of people only, but has always been a meeting place for scientists, industrial leaders, and not least, for students whom we regard as the future of space activities. For some students, this serves as an instruction to something that may potentially become an exciting education possibility in the future, whereas it for others means coming a step further; finding an interesting career after finishing their education.

Introducing the Rymdforskarskolan – the Space Research School, shows one of the many possibilities Swedish students has for an education within space research and utilisation. This two-week course, set up at three different places in the summertime, provides the students their first contact with activities connected to space research, and utilisation of space. The programme consists of popular science lectures, laboratory exercises and project work, study visits, not to mention, social events. The Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang is principal at the school and was also one of the lecturers. Two weeks in the summer school may very well be the first step for a career within the space community.

Some of the students and post-graduate students from the Luleå University of Technology, Division of Space Technology were also present. This division is co-located with the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Kiruna, thus, very close to the leading Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF).  The students are about to finalise their education and according to all plans, they should be very sought-after in the space related labour market

Other important topics at the forum were as follows:

  • Sweden’s political will in a global activity in change.
  • What is New Space?
  • Small and large satellites – small and large launchers. Trends in the space segment.
  • Clients and new users – what are the trends in the user segment?
  • The new Esrange – launching small satellites from 2021.

In addition to the importance of network building, several breaks provided the possibilities to visit the exhibition where a part of the Swedish space related community introduced themselves.  

Launching satellites from Esrange within two years.

Launch of sounding Rockets from Esrange. Credit: SSC.

Launching satellites from Esrange may seem ambitious, however, it is not empty speculations. Esrange has most of the infrastructure needed in place to manage launching of satellites, however, they need a new launching platform. The Swedish Government support the plans and has given the Swedish Space Agency (SNSA) and Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) the commission to initiate the first phase of further developing of the space station in northern Sweden. The main market is launching small satellites to polar orbits.

The Swedish strategy is to use well – proven launchers and has already initiated contact with possible suppliers of small launchers. The same goes for possible satellite owners; some contacts have been established; however, no contracts have been signed so far. There is an increasing interest for small satellites, both for the governmental and commercial market and launching capacity may prove important to pass through the eye of the needle for new satellite owners.

Esrange has several competitive advantages in terms of launching small satellites. Most of the infrastructure is well-proven, they have long experience in managing sounding rocket and balloon campaigns, as well as experience in managing satellites downloading satellite data, not to mention that through international collaboration, the SSC can offer downloading of satellite data almost worldwide.

Featured photo:

Panel discussion about the future of space activities.

Basis for most of Trollhättan’s industry activities: The hydroelectric pover. One of the power stations in the waterfall Götaälv.