The start of Esrange

Esrange started on the initiative of the European space organisation ESRO (European Space Research Organisation). They needed a site in Europe where research using sounding rockets could take place. The area north-east of Kiruna was found ideal and in 1964 it was decided to build Esrange. In November 1966 the first rocket could be launched. However, just a few years later a reorganisation of ESRO began, and it was decided that the member states in future should run their research programmes on a national basis. Sweden therefore took over the facility. At the same time the Swedish National Space Board and the Swedish Space Corporation was set up. SSC was commissioned to run Esrange.

Today Esrange is a busy site with just below 200 employees.

Sounding rockets

Sounding rockets have been launched from Esrange since 1966 and by now more than 500 rockets have been launched from Esrange!

Sounding rockets carry a payload of experiments that are executed in microgravity. Microgravity is lasting from 4 to 14 minutes, depending on the type of rocket used. The payload land on the ground again when the experiment is finished, and can easily be collected afterwards. Microgravity experiments on board sounding rockets can complement or even replace much more expensive flights on a space shuttle or ISS - the International Space Station.

Balloon operations

Launches of large helium-filled balloons started at Esrange in 1974. Since then more than 550 balloons have been launched!

The balloons can elevate scientific experiments to a height of 45 km and do measurements for as long as 30 hours continuously. Interest in balloon launches is quite large today since they are excellent for research within the fields of meteorology, environment and climate, all high-priority fields. A number of successful experiments concerning for example the ozone hole have been carried out by balloons launched from Esrange. A great advantage with balloon projects is that they are much cheaper and easier to organise than satellite projects.

Satellite operations

Satellite operations at Esrange started in 1978. The northerly location of Esrange is of great advantage when communicating with satellites in a polar orbit around the Earth. Satellite operations include control and operation of, as well as data reception from remote sensing, scientific and telecommunications satellites. Today these activities have expanded with several satellite stations and more than a dozen parabolic antennas, it is the fastest growing area of activities at Esrange.

More information

These facts have been collected from SSC where you can read more about Esrange.

Last updated: 23 March 2017