Cedar Park, Texas, June 27, 2024 – Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and U.S. space transportation company Firefly Aerospace have signed a collaborative agreement to jointly launch satellites with Firefly’s Alpha rocket from the newly inaugurated spaceport at Esrange Space Center in Sweden, starting in 2026. Together, Firefly and SSC are establishing an orbital launch service in Europe with a flight-proven launch vehicle, supporting commercial, civil, and defense customers.

“We’re pleased to announce this historic collaboration that will have a huge impact on the global launch market, not least in Europe and the U.S.,” said Charlotta Sund, CEO at SSC. “Reducing the current gap of orbital launch sites in Europe, this collaboration strengthens the transatlantic link between Sweden and the U.S. whilst offering unique space capabilities for the Swedish NATO membership. We’re looking forward to releasing this competitive and well-proven launch service at Esrange in northern Europe.”

Owned and operated by SSC, Esrange has been operational since 1966, primarily supporting sounding rocket launches for microgravity and atmospheric research. Newly expanded infrastructure at Esrange now supports satellite launches, making it a significant contribution to filling the demands for orbital launch capabilities in Europe.

As part of the agreement with SSC, Firefly’s Alpha rocket will launch from Esrange Launch Complex 3C where pad modifications are already underway. With the inaugural Alpha launch scheduled for 2026, the new complex will support commercial customers in the broader European market and enable tactically responsive space missions to further advance national security for NATO countries.

“The future of spaceflight requires more orbital launch sites across the globe as we continue to see growing demand among domestic and international launch customers,” said Bill Weber, CEO at Firefly Aerospace. “Firefly is incredibly humbled to partner with SSC and become the first U.S. company to launch from continental Europe. Together, we’re unlocking a long-awaited capability for the European satellite market, and we invite those waiting to fly with us on our flight-proven Alpha vehicle.”

The new launch service at Esrange will build on the success of Firefly’s orbital Alpha missions from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and supplement Firefly’s new launch capability at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia. Capable of carrying 1,030 kg to low-Earth orbit, Alpha recently launched a responsive space mission for the U.S. Space Force following a 24-hour notice and continues to serve as a responsive launch vehicle for government and commercial customers.

About Firefly Aerospace

Firefly Aerospace is an end-to-end space transportation company with launch, lunar, and on-orbit services. Headquartered in central Texas, Firefly is a portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners (“AEI”) focused on delivering responsive, reliable, and affordable space access for government and commercial customers. Firefly’s small- to medium-lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, and orbital vehicles provide the space industry with a single source for missions from low Earth orbit to the surface of the Moon and beyond.

About Swedish Space Corporation

Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) helps Earth benefit from Space. Since the 70’s, SSC has helped space organizations, companies, other commercial actors and research institutes to get access to space. Through our local presence on all continents and close to 700 committed employees, we offer specialist expertise in satellite ground station connectivity, spacecraft operations, rocket and balloon systems, launch services, flight test services and data analytics. Among our strongest assets are Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden, set to begin launching satellites from Sweden in 2025, as well as our global ground station network for satellite communications: SSC Connect.

Source: Firefly Aerospace

SSC and South Korean rocket company Perigee Aerospace Inc. have signed a collaborative agreement to launch satellites jointly from Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden, starting 2025. Perigee’s Blue Whale 1 microlauncher will be the first-ever orbital rocket launched from Esrange.

“I’m very pleased to announce this historic collaboration, our first orbital launch partnership. The market demand for this service is huge and it’s needed now, by both European and international satellite owners. Perigee’s Blue Whale 1 rocket is an ideal match for our orbital launch complex at Esrange. With this partnership, SSC will be able to offer a competitive commercial European orbital launch service at our spaceport in Sweden. This is exciting news for us, and for the global space market,” says Charlotta Sund, CEO of SSC.

“SSC has an impressive 50 years of launch heritage and the new orbital launch infrastructure at Esrange is laying the foundation for the years to come. By bringing our Blue Whale 1 rocket, soon ready for orbital missions, we will partner with SSC to create a state-of-the-art orbital launch service, including further delivery through SSC’s ground service offering. After a successful orbital launch from South Korea next year, we look forward to beginning this historic journey at Esrange,” says Yoon Shin, CEO and Founder of Perigee.

The two-stage launch vehicle has the capacity to place up to 200 kg into a 500 km Sun-Synchronous Orbit. Together, SSC and Perigee will develop a service concept with a shared payload space onboard the rocket to make room for both companies’ customer bases. Enforced by SSC’s global satellite ground station network, this service could also be supplemented by additional space-to-ground services.

About Perigee Aerospace

Perigee Aerospace is a space startup that develops the most efficient and economical space launch vehicle for small satellites and provides launch services. Blue Whale 1, a small space launch vehicle with a length of 21 m, a diameter of 1.6 m, and a take-off mass of 20 tons, is equipped with Perigee Aerospace's unique low-cost, high-performance liquid methane rocket engine technology, low-cost lightweight carbon composite airframe structure technology, and low-cost, high-reliability flight control system technology. It is being developed based on this and is scheduled for test launch in 2024. Since its establishment in 2018, with its headquarters in Daejeon, it has branches in the Rocket Development Complex in Okcheon, North Chungcheong Province, Seoul, and Jeju. In particular, it is taking the lead in expanding the global space market through the Jeju sea launch as well as in truly localizing space launch services.

Source: SSC

Australian rockets are closer to launching off the Queensland coast following the approval of the country's first orbital launch facility licence under the Space (Launches & Returns) Act 2018.

Located within the Abbot Point State Development Area in north Queensland, the Bowen Orbital Spaceport is built and operated by local company Gilmour Space Technologies, which offers commercial orbital launch services - including satellite platforms and dedicated/rideshare launches - to Low Earth Orbits.

The licence, granted by Minister for Industry and Science (and Minister in charge of the Australian Space Agency), Ed Husic MP, is a vote of confidence in the company's technical capability and paves the way for the launch of Australia's first sovereign-made rockets to space... 'bridging Country to Sky'.

The Queensland-based company has also secured approval from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, enabling the operation of the spaceport at Abbot Point.

"Australia now has its own 'road' to space," said Gilmour Space Co-founder and CEO, Adam Gilmour. "The ability to launch our own satellites, on launch vehicles that we own and control, to key orbits in space from Australia, will be a significant capability for our global customers, as well as for our nation and allies."

Said James Gilmour, Co-founder and Head of Launch Operations at Gilmour Space: "It's been two years since we started the project, engaging with the Juru traditional owners and other stakeholders at the local, state and federal levels. We've seen these efforts lead to diversified business opportunities, jobs, and investment in Bowen and greater Whitsunday region; and it will be exciting to see 'rocket tourism' emerging to support the local economy."

Eris TestFlight 1 is targeted to launch in the coming months, pending approval of the launch permit by the Australian Space Agency.

Source: Gilmour Space

Spaceport operator and launch technology infrastructure company, Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) has today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Singaporean rocket company Equatorial Space Systems (ESS) for a series of launches of the Dorado family of suborbital rockets at the Arnhem Space Centre, planned for late 2024.

ESS has plans for an expansive family of rockets up to and including orbital rockets and this MOU paves the way for a comprehensive Spaceport Services Agreement which could see ESS possibly become a resident launcher at the spaceport in the future, conducting orbital launches for satellite clients with their Volans rocket featuring up to 500kg payload capacity. All future launches are subject to the necessary regulatory approvals being met by both the Arnhem Space Centre and Equatorial Space Systems. The Dorado launches are planned from the end of this year and will carry science experiments and technology demonstrator payloads.

Initially ESS will leverage the spaceport’s existing infrastructure – the same launch pad used by NASA in 2022 when ELA conducted three successful suborbital launches with the US space organisation – the first successful commercial launches for Australia and the first commercial launches for NASA outside of the US.

“I’m pleased to announce the MOU with ESS today. ESS is a rapidly emerging Singaporean rocket company with impressive launch vehicle solutions, and we are looking forward to working with them on their technology demonstrator missions and to service their payload customers,” said Michael Jones, Executive Chairman and Group CEO of ELA. “Our companies have more than just our names in common, we have a common vision for pushing the boundaries of space technology and space infrastructure.”

Simon Gwozdz, CEO of Equatorial Space Systems said “ELA and ESS are bonded not just by the similarity in our companies’ names, but also by the common vision for more sustainable, democratized and flexible space access for the global space economy. Together, we are poised for a period of exponential growth as we prepare to launch our upcoming rockets from East Arnhem Land.”

“For all the reasons why the Arnhem Space Centre is growing in popularity and commercial interests globally, we are a really good fit for ESS. We have a cost-effective solution for both small and larger rockets, we have facilities for assembly, integration and test of both engines, sub-systems and the entire rocket. The other obvious advantage is our remoteness. This makes recovery and operations for sub-orbital launch and testing easier and when offset by the access to the area via a jet serviced airport and a deep-water port our customers are all seeing the key attributes that set us apart from other space ports,” said Mr Jones.

The Arnhem Space Centre is rapidly emerging as both a global and Asian launch site of choice. The MOU with ESS follows the announcement in August 2023 of a multi-year, multi-launch deal with Korean rocket company Innospace for 12 orbital launches due to commence in 2025. In addition, another four Asian rocket companies have indicated their interest in launches from the site and have made visits to the ASC to inspect the spaceport.

‘I’m thrilled to see this level of interest from Asian-based launchers,’ said Mr Jones. ‘It makes sense due the flexibility of orbits and launch directions from our site plus the ease of access to the Arnhem Space Centre which simplifies logistics for our customers from this region, and of course other aspects like similar time zones and favourable weather conditions are also conducive to a seamless launch campaign.’

“As well as Asia, we’ve had strong interest from Europe and the US too, and we are in continual discussions with launchers and their payload customers in those locations,” said Mr Jones. “Australia’s geopolitical stability, mature economy, supportive regulatory environment as well as our remoteness and access to multiple orbit options are attractive to the global space industry and our ability to relieve the launch congestion being experienced overseas also puts us in a great position to service growing demand.’

The company recently released completed Spaceport of the Future designs for its Space Launch Complexes comprised of a state-of-the-art Horizontal Integration Facility building and ‘game changer’ ASCALP launch pad designs – the latter of which utilises innovative launch pad technology allowing any NewSpace rocket to be quickly and seamlessly mated with the pivot base of an ASCALP launch pad through the use of a proprietary interface plate element. The technology will help meet rapid-response launch needs of the future.

About ESS

Equatorial Space is a Techstars-backed, Singapore-headquartered rocket propulsion and launcher company started in 2017. With its proprietary propulsion technologies, Equatorial Space builds game-changing, eco-friendly, low-cost and explosives-free rockets to foster the future of space exploration. In 2020, Equatorial Space became the first company in Southeast Asia to test launch a commercially developed rocket prototype, testing it’s core technologies. It will begin orbital launch services in 2026.

Source: Equatorial Launch Australia

Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) has today released completed designs for its state-of-the-art launch pads, a world first in launch pad design allowing any NewSpace rocket to be quickly and seamlessly mated with the pivot base of the pad, enabling all seven Space Launch Complexes (SLCs) at the Arnhem Space Centre (ASC) to launch any rocket with very little notice for configuration change. The company believes this innovative design is the most advanced NewSpace small to medium rocket launch pad in the world and will help to meet rapid-responsive launch needs in the future. The design also significantly minimises damage created by rocket plumes, substantially increasing the reusability of the launch pads.

The highly technically advanced design, named the Arnhem Space Centre Advanced Launch Pad (ASCALP), will accommodate all current class NewSpace small launcher rockets up to approximately 450,000kg launch weight (up to 3000kg payload weight). The pads will provide advanced thermal and acoustic protection damage mitigation aspects, advanced environmental and safety aspects as well as detailed and comprehensive support services integration. The pads were also designed with the aim of simplifying and making rocket handling, mounting and support safer and more efficient.

“Every element of this ASCALP is designed to improve the safety and efficiency of launch. It is also designed to make the operation of the Arnhem Space Centre much more efficient and cost-effective. The use of a proprietary Interface Plate element seamlessly mating a rocket to the Pivot Base of the pad allows each rocket to mate and be used with the standard launch pads anywhere on the ASC site” said Michael Jones, Chairman and Group CEO, Equatorial Launch Australia. “This has multiple advantages, including having all seven Space Launch Complexes at the ASC able to launch any rocket with very little notice for configuration change.”

Leading the charge in small launch, ELA has designed the ASCALP as a fully integrated and all-inclusive pad which incorporates extensive, safety, flexibility and efficiency of support services such as gases, propellants, oxidisers, and data acquisition and transmission that are required for launch.

The key features of the ASCALP design include:

A 90-degree, triple redundancy, hydraulically controlled Pivot Base which facilitates easy and quick rocket mount and dismount, a detailed support service layout with permanent plumbing, control manifolds, and digital control and monitoring of all gases and liquids. The pads and pivot bases at every SLC are the same and are pre-designed to accommodate either single barrel, dual booster and quad booster rockets. “The use of a standard Pivot Base and adaptable Interface Plate allows the pad to be quickly adapted and changed for another rocket if necessary. Eventually every rocket company customer will have their own Space Launch Complex at the ASC, but this plan allows us maximum flexibility as we grow into that situation,” said Mr Jones.

Each rocket has its own custom designed Interface Plate element which allows easy connection to the Pivot Base and doubles as the work platform. All rocket services and the umbilical connection are integrated and routed through the Pivot Base to the interface plate and on to the rocket itself. This design allows each pad to accept the wide range of rocket sizes and shapes and their attendant support equipment including strong back variations, hold down/retention device mechanisms, umbilical configurations, and other support services and devices. The pad also incorporates an advanced 80,000 litre Water Deluge System via either an annular or rectangular outflow manifold which is aimed at reducing the potential adverse thermal and acoustic effects on both the rocket and pad of up to 16500km/h high velocity and >4000°C rocket plume. Extensive research and testing with unique computational fluid dynamic analysis of the proprietary manifold design with various flow aperture sizes and locations optimises the spray/flow pattern effectiveness.

A multilayer/composite plume deflector is a key element of the ASCALP design. The multi-angular deflection and channelling/containment device utilises steel, heat resistant concrete and proprietary ablative coating to minimise the damage created by the plume, allowing multiple launches without refurbishment or replacement.

“The design and re-usability of the deflector and the lack of damage to the pad overall was a key aim and it all adds to the efficiency and cost-effective solution we are offering our customers,” said Mr Jones.

The 12 metre (standard) height of the pad – from rocket base to bottom of plume deflector and plume chamber is a key element in the management and mitigation of both thermal and acoustic risks and currently unique for smaller NewSpace rocket pads.

“This 12m height and the design overall are made possible due to the positioning of the majority of pads at the ASC being as close to the edge of the escarpment upon which the spaceport is located as possible. Pushing the pads to these edges allows us to get the maximum safety spread of multiple pads as well as utilising the natural topography of the spaceport’s location, for the pad’s essential and unique technical requirements,” said Mr Jones.

The use of a large volume Environmental Capture Pond, or colloquially named “Baby’s Bath” with filter and return pumps is incorporated on every pad and is essential to capture and filter any residue from the launch and reuse any deluge water as part of the extensive layered environmental protection plan used at the ASC.

“Due to the heat and type of propellants used by modern rockets, the residue/effluent from launches is incredibly small, and when considering the number of launches from the ASC across a year the facility’s contribution to longer-term average concentrations of air pollutants will be negligible, nevertheless, we take this very seriously. We have been collecting water, soil and air samples over an expanded local area for more than two years now and will continue this monitoring and control process into the future”, Mr Jones said.

A Nitrogen based ‘Oxygen Purge System’ for fire control following a launch abort. This system automatically floods the area at the base of the rocket with nitrogen to purge oxygen and help reduce the risk of ‘slow rate’ fire. The provision of four automated and steerable fire cannons at the base of the pad area also assists in fire control and safety. The water for these cannons and the separate deluge reserves are from collected and stored rainwater.

“We are really proud of this pad design and in some ways, it is the centre piece of our commercial offering at the Arnhem Space Centre,” said Mr Jones. “Our in-house space technology and engineering team took my design concept and the user requirements which we have gathered over several years and have completed the design, analysis, construction, manufacturing plan and come up with a completed comprehensive design which we are really proud to release to the market. This is a game changer in the NewSpace launch market”.

Rocket Trolley

As a purpose-made, complimentary design to the advance launch pad, ELA will also soon complete and release the final design of its advanced Rocket Trolley. The Rocket Trolley is being designed to carry rockets up to 45m in length and up to 130,000kg in total mass (with strongback, base and Interface Plate connected) from the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) at each Space Launch Complex (SLC) of the ASC to the launch pad. Most empty rockets in the small, medium range weigh less than 20 tonnes empty, however, multi booster solid fuel rockets can weight up to 100 tonnes.

The Rocket Trolley allows the rocket to be easily mated horizontally with the 90-degree Pivot Base and has been design to hydraulicly adjust the lateral and vertical position for precision loading and attachment of the Interface Plate with strong back attached to the Pivot Base of the pad.

A Complete Integrated Launch Pad Solution

The ASCALP was designed from the outset to be a comprehensive launch solution which allowed integration with each customer and to provide efficiency and cost-effective solution. Every customer at the ASC will use the ASCALP and in some cases additional elements of the clients launch system will be incorporated into the base ASCALP design.

“When we first introduced the ASCALP design to our customers we received some push-back – not every customer was at the same stage and had fully scoped their launch system. Others did, and so we had to do some work to convince them of the benefits and the need for both increased safety and also efficiency. We think we have achieved a pretty good situation now. At the end of the day, they are the customer, and the customer is always right, but our engineering systems and Launch Facility Licencing requirements dictate we have a very strong view of the integrated launch systems and a desire for commonality where practical, and this all translates to all things related to the launch process, so we have been, and still are, getting very involved with our clients launch engineering and mission plans. Our contract 100% supports this with a very detailed division and determination of responsibilities, and requirements for operating at the ASC,” said Mr Jones.

ELA is on a mission to be the pre-eminent multi-user commercial space launch company, providing world-class launch services supporting testing, launch and recovery of space vehicles and payloads flown to and from all space orbits. ELA owns and operates the Arnhem Space Centre (ASC), in East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. The proximity of the ASC to the equator (12 degrees south) offers rocket companies and their payload customers operational freedom and simplicity for their launch and mission design.

ASC Advance Launch Pad

Source: Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA)

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