Press images from the Inauguration!
The official inauguration of Spaceport Sweden was made today at Kiruna Airport by Mrs. Maud Olofsson, Minister for Enterprise and Energy as well as Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden. Spaceport Sweden is now open for business and starts off by signing an agreement with Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial space line that will give the general public the opportunity to become astronauts.
The agreement allows the parties to work together on an initial study on the regulatory and operational requirements for launching the Virgin Galactic Spaceships on suborbital flights from Spaceport Sweden. The goal is that the study will result in an operational agreement whereby Spaceport Sweden would be the first spaceport outside the United States which Virgin Galactic can use for flight campaigns. Areas of work to be developed include scientific confirmation of the possibility of operating the first ever spaceflights into the Aurora Borealis ( The Northern Lights) and payload deployment and scientific experiments from Spaceport Sweden.
Spaceport Sweden aims to be Europe’s first and most obvious place for personal suborbital spaceflight. The conditions are ideal as Spaceport Sweden is the combined expertise of several Kiruna-based Swedish companies whose successful development has earned them international respect: the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), ICEHOTEL, LFV Group (Kiruna Airport) and Kiruna’s business-development company Progressum. Their reputation for service consistently attracts attention with regards to aerospace operations, testing and tourism.
Virgin Galactic’s mission is to provide excellence in commercialized human suborbital spaceflight. Its aim is to create 500 new astronauts within the first year of operation, and up to 50,000 within 10 years of operation.
“Spaceport Sweden is very interesting for us thanks to their expertise in space technology and innovative thinking, as well as the fact that Kiruna can offer unique experiences such as the northern lights and the ICEHOTEL during winter as well as Europe’s last wilderness bathing in midnight sun during summer” says Mr. Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic.
Already the first Swede has signed for a flight from Spaceport Sweden, and he will become Sweden’s second astronaut, first space tourist and potentially the first Swede flying into space from Swedish ground. His name is Mr. Bengt Söderqvist and he was born in 1938 in Tvärskog, a small village near Kalmar in southern Sweden. He is since many years living on the Turks and Caicos Island, southwest of the Bahamas, where he has been working as a surveyor for a pioneer development company since 1966.
“When I understood that I had the chance to see the Earth from space myself, I took that chance and here I am”, Mr Söderqvist says with sparkling eyes and a happy smile on his face.
The first flight from Spaceport Sweden will take place after Virgin Galactic has established regular commercial operations in the United States and agreed the necessary procedures to both export the technology and approvals to operate in Swedish airspace. Thereafter space trips from Kiruna can start.
The first purpose built commercial spaceport is currently being developed in New Mexico and has already signed an agreement with Virgin Galactic as a launch customer. “Spaceport Sweden is additional confirmation of the worldwide interest and commitment to commercial space travel,” said Rick Homans, cabinet secretary for economic development in the State of New Mexico. “While Spaceport America in New Mexico will be Virgin’s world headquarters and primary operating base, having a global network of spaceports for showcase launches will allow Virgin to expand its business and, therefore, help to support the commercial operations here in New Mexico. Spaceport America welcomes Spaceport Sweden and looks forward to a strong partnership in the years to come.” Mr. Homans concludes. “Kiruna has been involved in space business since almost 50 years, and the town has evolved to a recognized Space City on the world map”, says Dr. Olle Norberg, Head of Esrange Space Center (SSC) and Spaceport Sweden. “To take new steps into the future of space activities is very natural for us and we very much look forward to work together with Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America”, Dr. Norberg concludes.
For more information please contact:
Dr. Olle Norberg, Head of Esrange Space Center (SSC)
Mobile phone: +46 70 58 72 042
Mr. Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic
Mobile phone: +44 794 122 88 44
Read more about the organizations involved at: