A satellite launcher at the Esrange Space Center, Source: European Commission

Today, Europe’s first continental spaceport launched in Kiruna (Sweden)

Today, Europe’s first continental spaceport launched in Kiruna (Sweden)

The Arctic town also hosted Sweden’s first event of its 2023 EU Presidency

The EU has affirmed its standing in the global space race with today’s unveiling of a spaceport at the Esrange Space Center near the town of Kiruna, in the far north of Sweden. The spaceport becomes the first such site in continental Europe where satellites can be shot into the Earth’s orbit.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson were present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, although the actual launch of the first satellite is expected to take place later in the year.

The spaceport is important in a rapidly evolving technological world, as satellites are the vehicles that assist in a broad variety of strategic tasks, from weather forecasting to security and defence capabilities, to climate change observation.

This spaceport offers an independent European gateway to space. It is exactly the infrastructure we need, not only to continue to innovate but also to further explore the final frontier.” This is how EU President Ursula von der Leyen described the momentous occasion in her speech at the event.

According to experts, it has become easier in recent years to send satellites into orbit thanks to their smaller sizes and cheaper prices compared to a few years ago - and Europe is now looking to capitalise on it. The spaceport will also serve as the base to test the reusability of satellites.

Sweden now also leads policy ideas with EU Council Presidency

The escapade to the snowy Far North, was also used as the opportunity to formally launch Sweden’s Presidency of the EU Council for the first six months of the current year.

The Swedish government has stated that its priorities for the rotating presidency are: security – unity, competitiveness, green and energy transitions, democratic values and the rule of law. Seemingly noble values in line with the overall vision of the bloc.

Nevertheless, the general media commentary on the event, however, has focused on the fact that Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s government enjoys its existence thanks to the support of the Swedish far-right nationalists.

It remains to be seen the tone that Sweden will set for Europe’s conversations.



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