Great interest in Space Innovation Forum

The thirteenth Space Innovation Forum event was held in Kiruna on 1-2 December and attracted over a hundred visitors from academia, space companies, enabling organizations and the public sector. As Sweden and its northernmost space region is on the verge of providing unique launching capabilities on European ground, the event focused on the theme “Access to space”.

(Presentations from Space Innovation Forum 13 will be made available by December 8.)

For the first time since early 2020 the event was held in-person in Kiruna, and to meet face-to-face once again was greatly appreciated, as Space Innovation Forum’s host and RIT2021 project manager Johanna Bergström-Roos explains:

– The space ecosystem in northern Sweden is growing fast, with more and more actors joining every year. As the community is growing, I can see that we are also more who need to meet, share insights, and form new business relationships. I’m glad that we have been able to keep the event series going online during the pandemic, but nothing beats the real thing. It’s been great to see everyone mingling under the same roof again, says Johanna, and adds: We have so much to share and discuss!

Developing Europe’s next space fleet

A number of Esrange Space Center’s customers were present at the event, including ISAR Aerospace, GKN Aerospace, Rocket Factory Augsburg and ArianeWorks (ArianeGroup’s and CNES’ acceleration platform for preparing future launchers). Laura Appolloni of ArianeWorks, responsible for ground systems development and test operations for the Themis T1H and T3 demonstrators to be used in the next European space fleet, shared the roadmap for Themis launch testing at Esrange:

– ArianeWorks have been in connection with the Swedish Space Corporation and Esrange for a long time and we are happy with the collaboration. Our goal is to develop reusable launchers that reduce costs and carbon dioxide emissions. We are planning to conduct so called hop tests, rockets taking off to about a hundred meters, hovering and then safely landing again, at Esrange in 2023-2024, says Laura.

Philip Påhlsson work as a business strategist at the Swedish Space Corporation, who own and operate Esrange Space Center:

– Esrange Space Center is the most versatile space center in the world. We offer access to a vast, unpopulated impact and recovery area and the infrastructure required for safe launches and advanced testing. We are building a new spaceport for orbital launches and introducing our launch service SmallSat Express, which will be ready to launch satellites up to 1500 kg from 2022. It’s great to see the strong interest in our region and space center, including that of ArianeWorks and the European Space Agency, says Philip.

Attracting new actors and investments

Day two of the program focused on how to grow the ecosystem further. Topics such as how to attract talented workers as well as even more space actors and investments were discussed. One of the presenters was Lena Segerlund, CEO of Invest in Norrbotten, an organization funded by the Norrbotten region and its municipalities, which works proactively to develop and promote investment opportunities to international companies and investors:

– Record investments are being made in our region. They enable the green transformation of our industries and are motivated by a great demand for sustainable materials, products and services. We are proud of the development of the space sector in northern Sweden, and we see interesting links between the space sector and the other industries, says Lena.

Space Innovation Forum has attracted a total of 1,650 visitors over the years.