EU inaugurates first mainland satellite launch port

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The European Union wants to bolster its capacity to launch small satellites into space with a new launchpad in Arctic Sweden.

European officials and Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf inaugurated the EU’s first mainland orbital launch complex on Friday during a visit to Sweden by members of the European Commission, which is the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm.

The new facility at Esrange Space Center near the city of Kiruna should complement the EU’s current launching capabilities in French Guiana.

Ulf Kristersson, on the left, and Ursula von der Leyen during the inauguration of the Esrange Space Center near the city of Kiruna. EC Audiovisual Service.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said small satellites are crucial to tracking natural disasters in real time and, in the light of Russia’s war in Ukraine, to help guarantee global security.

The first satellite launch is expected next year.

The total number of satellites could reach 100,000 by 2040, compared with the current 5,000 operational satellites, according to the Swedish Space Corp., or SSC.

Ulf Kristersson, Ursula von der Leyen, and HM the King Carl XVI Gustaf, from left to right during the inauguration of the Esrange Space Center near the city of Kiruna. EC Audiovisual Service.

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