To Space from Sweden

European and other space explorers, get ready for a suborbital trip on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, lifting off from the aurora-lit northernmost city in Sweden.

To commemorate the official announcement of
Spaceport Sweden (happening on January 26, 2007) -- Virgin Galactic's first European spaceport, to be located in Kiruna, home of such cool things as Sweden's space base Esrange, as well as the world's original ice hotel -- Space Law Probe takes a look at some Swedish space law.

For starters, the
Swedish National Space Board (SNSB), under the Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications, is the government agency responsible for national and international space activities in Sweden. SNSB distributes government funds for space research and activities, and coordinates Sweden's participation in European Space Agency (ESA) programs. (See overview here.)

And SNSB is responsible for "authorisation and supervision of space activities in accordance with space law."

(As for "the technical implementation of the national programme," SNSB contracts this to the government-owned
Swedish Space Corporation. Here is some background on SSC: Three decades of experiences with space, from the publication, NordicSpace. And note, as Flight International and others report, the spaceport is a partnership among SSC, ICEHOTEL, LFV Group (Luftfartsverket) and a Kiruna investment company, Progressum.)

Key documents in Sweden's national space law (and I swiped these from the UN, they are "unofficial" translations):

Act on Space Activities (1982:963)
- basically, as in the US, you need a license from the government to carry out space activities (section 2). And Sir Richard Branson's lawyers knows all about this; penalty for violation? Possible imprisonment (section 5). The Act also mandates persons carrying out space activities reimburse Sweden for any liability it incurs under international treaties (section 6).

Decree on Space Activities (1982:1069) - applications for licenses under the Act shall be submitted to the National Board for Space Activities (section 1) which exercises control over the space activities of licensees (section 2). The Decree also sets up a national registry of space objects in compliance with the Registration Convention (section 4).

(Other Swedish space law documents may include this
item, but when I try getting it translated, I end up with this. All I know is, Rymdstyrelsen is the SNSB. Any Swedish speaking Probe readers who can help here, please drop me a note. Thanks!)

On the international front, regarding the constitutional monarchy in which King Carl XVI Gustaf is head of state:

Sweden is one of the founding members of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Sweden is a member of: CEOS (Committee on Earth Observation Satellites), the ad hoc Group on Earth Observations (GEO),committeee for Outer Space, COSPAR (Committee on Space Research), Intelsat, Eutelsat, Inmarsat and Eumetsat.

And of course, Sweden is a party to the Outer Space Treaty, Rescue Agreement, Liability Convention, and Registration Convention, and like much of the world, is a non-party to the Moon Treaty.

What about the Swedish space industry? It can certainly hope for a nice boost from the new spaceport. Meanwhile, SNSB has a list of
Swedish space companies. (A few updates are in order, for example: the company listed as Saab Ericsson Space no longer exists, it was a JV that is actually now fully owned by Saab; the company listed as ECAPS as of July 1, 2006 is fully owned by Swedish Space; the company listed as Nordic Satellite AB last year changed its name to SES SIRIUS AB.)

For now, a toast with a cup of hot lingonberry juice (yes, with a splash of Absolut!) to Spaceport Sweden. Reindeer and rockets away!

For Sweden - With the times. - H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf´s motto

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Image credit: Photo Jan Jordan© - Art Tjåsa Gusfors 04/05 "Space" - courtesy of ICEHOTEL.

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