Security, defense and regional development are topics that engage a large proportion of society today. They are also areas where space plays a significant role, which became obvious when SSC went to the Almedalen Political Week in Visby last week. This year SSC participated in three seminars, two that we organized ourselves and one as a representative for the industry organization Swedish Aerospace Industry (SAI). Discussions were fruitful and focused on the importance of space, and SSC, for Sweden, Europe and the world.
Esrange, Europe’s gateway to space – a key for security and defense
On Wednesday, SSC organized a seminar together with the Swedish Security & Defence Industry Association (SOFF) focusing on the importance of space capabilities for security and defense, as well as Esrange Space Center as an asset in this context. On stage were Lieutenant General Carl-Johan Edström, Head of Operations for the Swedish Defense, Björn Fägersten, Secrurity Policy Expert from the Swedish Institute of Foreign Affairs, and Stefan Gustafsson, Head of Strategy at SSC.
The capability needs of the future were discussed, as well as the opportunities made possible by the capabilities at Esrange Space Center and the Swedish space industry as a whole. The inauguration of Spaceport Esrange earlier this year, EU mainland’s first satellite launch facility, was widely mentioned together with its ability to rapidly respond to crises as crucial capability in our time and for the future.
“SSC and Esrange are important assets which can be utillized for something truly unique in Europe – rapid response measures that can help European security in the long term,” said Stefan Gustafsson, Head of Strategy at SSC.
The discussion also emphasized the importance of space situational awareness and insights into the activities that take place in space, not least in regards to the current geopolitical and security situation. With increased insecurity and conflicts in the world, the need for a stronger defense grows even more important. Hence, space is seen as an increasingly important domain, including orbital launch capabilities and satellite communications.
“Sweden will be the largest little country to join NATO. But we are just as strong when it comes to our space capabilities, especially with Esrange as a unique asset. We have a golden opportunity to be an important actor in space,” said Carl-Johan Edström, Lieutenant General at the Swedish Armed Forces.
Furthermore, the importance of a stronger transatlantic link between Europe and the US was also discussed as way of sharing competence and develop the European space market together with the American one, which is the largest in the world.
The seminar can be viewed again at https://youtu.be/0LaUvE2bo94
A safer society through space?
On Thursday, the space industry organizations Aerospace Cluster Sweden (ACS) and Swedish Aerospace Industries (SAI) organized a seminar which focused on how space can contribute to a safer society, not least in order to maintain critical societal functions and defence capabilities.
On stage were Lieutenant General Carl-Johan Edström, Head of Operations for the Swedish Defense, Camilla Brunsberg, politician from Moderaterna, Kristoffer Hultgren, expert on space security at The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), and Stefan Gustafsson, Head of Strategy at SSC.
The discussion focused on what capabilities are required and which are missing from a defense perspective.
“In order to strengthen our security capabilities, we should expand collaboration with the EU but also create a new clear national space strategy in Sweden,” said Kristoffer Hultgren.
He also emphasized the importance of acting sustainably so that we can continue to use space in the future. While the need for space is great, both from the military and in other parts of society, it is crucial tha we utilize space in a sustainable way.
“The Swedish space industry is not that big, but very competent. From technological development to new capabilities for sending satellites into orbit. We have top-of-the-line competence in Sweden that competes at the very top of the world, said Stefan Gustafsson, Head of Strategy at SSC, at the seminar representing SAI.
Carl-Johan Edström, Lieutenant General and Head of Operations at the Swedish Armed Forces, also emphasized that Sweden’s opportunities with Esrange are unique and that we cannot miss the chance to utilize this technology to make Sweden an attractive partner internationally. Not least in a NATO context:
“Sweden is in a fantastic starting position. We are the partner which many international players are looking for. NATO has just as much to gain from Sweden becoming a member as we have from joining the alliance”.
The seminar can be viewed again at https://youtu.be/pAgD3HkEggQ
Europe’s gateway to space – how can the unique space cluster in Norrbotten strengthen the region?
Later that Thursday, SSC organized a seminar focusing on how the Norrbotten region’s space ecosystem can collaborate with academia, industry and politics in order to attract new visitors and establishments to the region.
On stage were René Laufer, Professor and Head of Subject Space Systems at LTU, Mia Kleregård, Chief People Officer at SSC, Anders Öberg, Chairman of the Regional Board at Region Norrbotten, and Madelein Keskitalo, Growth and Development Manager at Kiruna Municipality.
The seminar discussed how we can become better at using the opportunities in space for a sustainable social development, and what is needed for the space sector to flourish. Mia Kleregård, Chief People Officer at SSC, said:
“To solve societal issues, we need to add more knowledge about space technology and how to utilize it. We need to tell the story about how things are done so that people could actually understand the importance of space.”
René Laufer, Professor and Head of Subject Space Systems at LTU, emphasized the uniqueness of Esrange Space Center and states that there are only a few space centers globally that are as versatile as Esrange, and that we need to be more vocal about how important Esrange is. Madelein Keskitalo, Growth and Development Manager at Kiruna Municipality, summarized:
“Space and Esrange are important for attracting more people to Kiruna. Space awakens a childlike curiosity in us humans, it is as simple as that!”
The seminar can be viewed again at https://utvecklanorrbotten.se/uppdraget/motesplatser/norrbotten-i-almedalen/inspelade-seminarier-2023/europas-port-till-rymden-hur-kan-rymdklustret-i-norrbotten-starka-regionen/