Senior representatives from Spaceport Sweden and Virgin Galactic today presented their latest progress towards commercial spaceflights for private space tourists. The press conference took place at SSC’s Esrange Space Center. The press conference was opened by Dr. Olle Norberg, the initiator and chairman of Spaceport Sweden. After welcoming everyone, he handed over to Mr. Sven Grahn, senior advisor at Swedish Space Corporation, who presented his work related to the establishment of Spaceport Sweden.
– We have studied very practical matters such as, for example, the suitability of the available infrastructure in Kiruna, the weather conditions, the possible flight profile for Virgin Galactic’s spaceship when operating in Kiruna, any additional infrastructure that may be needed, the regulatory framework in Sweden and Europe for personal spaceflight, and a host of other matters, said Mr. Sven Grahn.
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|Olle Norberg, Sven Grahn and |
|Will Whitehorn showing a model of the White Night Two and the Sapce Ship Two. ||Parts of the Spaceport Sweden and Virgin Galactic team. |
– We have not encountered any major obstacles along the way and don’t expect to do so either. Our next step will be to keep working on regulatory matters, and further defining the way we take care of space travellers and any additional infrastructure that may be needed, said Mr. Sven Grahn.
Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic, talked about the challenge and necessity of designing totally new and energy efficient techniques to access space, which will help to transform the applications of space at a time when civilisation needs all the technological help it can get. He also explained Virgin Galactic’s vision of not only offering spaceflights to the general public but also of developing a launch vehicle that could be part of a longer term development programme involving space science, payload deployment and potentially other applications yet to be defined.
A significant factor of working together with Spaceport Sweden is that, in common with Spaceport America in New Mexico which will be our primary operating base, they can, as and when we are able to operate outside the US, offer much more that just a spaceport for space tourism, said Mr. Will Whitehorn. I’m not just thinking about the unique adventures one can enjoy in the Kiruna area, but also the long experience that Spaceport Sweden has in space science with sounding rockets, (i.e. suborbital flight performed by the Swedish Space Corporation from Esrange Space Center). They have been in this business since 1966 and have the experience, the knowledge and the infrastructure needed to launch and communicate with experiments performed in space in real time. This really matches our vision of making further use of the new technology developed by Burt Rutan at Scaled Composites in California.
Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director of Virgin Galactic, talked about the size and potential of the space tourism market which has justified VG’s faith and investment in developing the air and space vehicles and establishing the worlds first commercial spaceline. VG’s customer numbers continue to grow strongly, now around 250 firm reservations and well over $30 million dollars in deposits, with another 85000 people having registered an interest in flying with VG in the future. The customers come from a broad range of backgrounds, they cover a wide age group, and hail from 30 countries. 80 of them have started their preparations for the space flight by climbing into a centrifuge and have effectively “gone to space”. They experienced 3,5 G’s on the way up and 6 G’s on the way down.
– For Virgin Galactic this was an essential exercise, demonstrating our commitment to passenger safety and contributing to our business plan, says Mr. Stephen Attenborough. Only two customers were unable to undertake the training, and three delayed due to treatable medical conditions. In other words, we achieved a 93% success rate, which was 10-15% higher than our original business plan projections. Overall, we proved conclusively that ordinary people can go to space, and that actually, almost of us are made of the right stuff.
Invited media spoke to a number of Virgin Galactic´s future Astronauts making a special visit to Kiruna.. Their programme was devised by the ICEHOTEL, the partner in Spaceport Sweden responsible for arranging all the unique adventures that come with a visit in the land of the northern lights and the midnight sun.
– The stay here in Sweden has been fantastic so far, says Mr. Jon Goodwin, a Virgin Galactic future Astronaut. We slept in the ICEHOTEL the first night, in warm sleeping bags and in beds covered with reindeer skins. This afternoon we are looking forward to witnessing a rocket launch from Esrange Space Center and then we will continue to search for the famous northern lights together with scientists at the Institute of Space Physics. Tomorrow we’re taking a helicopter tour to the highest mountain top in Sweden (Kebnekaise) and will end the day by visiting a Sami family and taking in some of their culture and history. We will also have time for a dog sledge ride and a scooter safari to a wilderness camp where dinner will be prepared over an open fire. I must say that this is a remarkable place, even without a space trip, said Mr. Goodwin.
For more information please contact:
Dr. Olle Norberg, chairman of Spaceport Sweden
Phone: +46 980 720 24 or +46 70 587 20 42
E-mail: [email protected]
Ms Susan Newsam Virgin Galactic
Telephone +44 207 447 1926
E-mail: [email protected]
Read more about the organizations involved on:
Spaceport Sweden represents the combined expertise of several Kiruna–based Swedish companies whose successful development has earned them international respect; Swedish Space Corporation, ICEHOTEL, LFV Group and Kiruna’s business-development company Progressum. Their reputation for service consistently attracts attention with regards to aerospace operations, testing and tourism. Their next challenge is to make Spaceport Sweden Europe’s first and most obvious place for personal suborbital spaceflight.
Spaceport Sweden is based in Kiruna, a modern city with excellent communications and extensive infrastructure in the unique northern Scandinavian wilderness. Winter time, the spaceflights will go right through the Aurora (the northern lights) and summer time they will graze the sparkling midnight sun!
Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, has chosen Spaceport Sweden as one of its operational partners. Virgin Galactic will give ordinary people the opportunity to become non-professional astronauts. The company will own and operate its privately built spaceships, SpaceShipTwo.