The Swedish space industry
Space in Sweden
Space museums
Welcome to Arielspace

This website is dedicated to the Swedish space industry. International space-related business is growing, and Swedish companies are part of this exciting development. I hope that this website can help establish links between Swedish and international companies. 

Swedish Government has decided to invest in a Space Test Bed at Esrange for 80 million swedish crona. (SVT. 2018-07-06)

A first step of the further development of the space center

Sweden invests 80 million Swedish kronor in establishing a test bed for reusable rockets and spacecraft development at Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden; 60 million from the Swedish Government and 20 million from SSC, a state-owned company. The test facility is the first step of the further development of Esrange, defined in the recently published Swedish Space Strategy.

- We look forward to establishing this first European test-range of its kind, with great confidence. It will play an important role in Swedish and European space development, and we are of course very happy to be able to add this service to the Sounding Rockets and Balloon services we deliver today from Esrange, says Lennart Poromaa, site manager at Esrange.

The international space business is developing very quickly. Several government-financed projects in Europe have a great need for the types of tests that can be conducted at the new test bed and thus this investment is not only good for Esrange, but for all space actors, within Europe and elsewhere in the world.

Press release from GomSpace 16th of januari 2018:

GomSpace signs contract for low-inclination launch on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne. 2019 launch will deploy several nanosatellites for aircraft and ocean vessel tracking constellation

GomSpace has purchased a launch for several nanosatellites onboard a LauncherOne rocket from the California based company Virgin Orbit. The flight, which is bound for a low-inclination orbit, is scheduled to occur in early 2019.

GomSpace will use the launch to further build out a constellation of small satellites that will use Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) signal monitoring to track civilian aircraft and ocean-going vessels. This satellite constellation will provide continuous monitoring between 37 degrees North and 37 degrees South, helping provide global situational awareness for air-traffic controllers and shipping companies, and aiding in the identification and location of wayward or missing planes and ships.

The satellites slated for flight on LauncherOne are based closely on the flight-proven hardware used in the successful GOMX-1 and GOMX-3 missions, and will be designed, manufactured, and commissioned by GomSpace. The constellation will be operated by GomSpace’s Mauritius-based customer, Aerial & Maritime Ltd., once in orbit.

“GomSpace is always happy to take another step forward as a global leader in the nanosatellite community. Virgin Orbit and LauncherOne are a key part of building out our ADS-B and AIS monitoring constellation, which is going to fill a need that is both socially and commercially important,” said GomSpace CEO Niels Buus. “Seeing the great work happening here at Virgin Orbit’s rocket factory today, we are more excited than ever for our flight on LauncherOne.”

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart added: “GomSpace has already proven that they have an excellent technological solution that works in space. Now, they need to build out the full constellation, and I’m thrilled that our team at Virgin Orbit is playing a key role in that. The ADS-B and AIS tracking that this constellation will provide helps make us here on Earth safer and more efficient, and we think that is an incredibly important mission.”

Virgin Orbit is currently in the process of qualification and test flight for the LauncherOne service, which includes both a two-stage expendable rocket and a fully-reusable air-launch platform. The company has a fully-assembled pathfinder rocket on the test stand in Mojave, CA, and several more in manufacturing and assembly in Long Beach, CA. The system’s 747-400 flying launch pad has begun its flight test campaign. LauncherOne is designed to provide highly responsive, reliable, and affordable flights to Low Earth Orbit to small satellites. The initial flight of the LauncherOne system is targeted for the first half of 2018.

Press release: AAC Microtec purchases Clyde Space.

The Swedish space tech company AAC Microtec AB ("AAC") has today entered into a share sale and purchase agreement to acquire 100% of the shares in UK based Clyde Space Ltd ("Clyde Space") (the "Transaction"), the leading player in the global, high-growth CubeSat market. (2017-12-21)

The acquisition will be paid for with 30 466 326 newly issued shares in AAC and GBP 2 million in cash, equivalent to approximately SEK 294 million (at a share price of 8.90 SEK/share). After completion of the acquisition, Clyde Space owners will hold 49 percent of AAC.

Being a fast-growing forerunner in the "New Space" market, Clyde Space has supplied complete platforms as well as over 2,000 subsystems for small spacecraft. In the CubeSat sector, Clyde Space is a market leader, supporting around 30-40 percent of all current and past missions. For the period Q1-Q3 2017, Clyde Space's revenues amounted to approximately GBP 3.98 million, corresponding to approximately million SEK 45 million. EBITDA for the same period amounted to approximately GBP -0.03 million, corresponding to approximately SEK -0.3 million. The company employs 77 individuals in Glasgow, Scotland.

OHB Sweden.

In 2011 the Swedish Space Corporation sold the satellite division to OHB. It is now the company OHB Sweden. Since january 2014 OHB Sweden is based in a newly commissioned headquarters and manufactoring facility located in Kista, in Stockholm´s technology district. (22 of June 2014)

The entrance on Visitors Day.

The new facility has been designed to enable high capacity with efficiency (according to the company). A central large manufacturing facility is surrounded by various laboratories and complimentary functional areas. 

The company arranged a Visitors Day 18th of June 2014. OHB Sweden  invited guests from space companies, the military, universities and the press to be informed of the new facilities. Special guest was the swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang.

The CEO of OHB Sweden, Gierth Olsson, and astronaut Christer Fuglesang.

OHB Sweden, a member of the OHB AG Group, is a Swedish provider of space systems. The OHB Group currently employs over 2.500 people in its "Space Systems" and Aerospace and Industrial Products" business units. Within this array, OHB Sweden AB belongs in the Space Systems and develops, builds, tests and operates satellites for different kinds of space missions within communications, Earth observation, space research and exploration.

Read more about the company OHB Sweden. Link to that page!

What did I learn at the space conference Space Ops 2012?            
Part I.

The first really big space conference in Sweden in many years was held in June 2012. I listened to so many speeches, met so many people that it was impossible for me to write about everything at the time. Here is a text about China´s National Space Science Center and the new chinese satellites.

When lunch was served the first day of the conference I happened to eat at the same table as three young scientists from China. We talked a bit about the conference and about swedish food. Strangly enough I forgot to ask them about their work. The last day of the conference I wanted to interview them, but it turned out that they had instructions not to talk to the press during the conference.

But...I was handed a very interesting broschyr. I have now read it and I have had a look at the web-site of the Chinese Academy of Science.
This is what I learned:

National Space Science Center (NSSC)

The new space center was officially launched at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in July 7, 2011.

The newly established center is fully build up on the current Center for Space Science and Applied Research (CSSAR), but has new duties. The most important duty is to carry out a so called strategic pioneer project – space science.

The Space Science Project includes development of five space science satellites, select and support several new mission studies before the engineering phase, support a number of long term enabling technology studies for future missions and finally leading future strategic study for space science in China. Those studies have never been supported by other national programs, therefore it is a truly national program and the budget of it is directly from the central government. 

            You can read more about NSSC here.

Five chinese space science satellites planned for 2011-2016.

Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope: 
- Observe  diffuse background and cosmic variance.
- Discover highly obscured supermassive BHs.

Quantum Communication Test Satellite
-Accomplish for the first time satellite-to-ground absolutely secure communication with the core of quantum key
-carry out the first time satellite-to-ground quantum entanglement distribution and Bell inequality in the world
-investigate possibility of achieving satellite-to-ground quantum teleportation experiment
-establish wide-area quantum communication network

Dark Matter Particle Detection Satellite
-Look for the dark matter particles through the high resolution observation of the high energy electrons and gamma ray.
-Studying the origin of the cosmic ray, as well as its spread and acceleration mechanism by measuring the energy spectrum of high energy electrons and heavy ions.

Microgravity Experiment Retrievable Satellite
-Expected to make breakthroughs in the basic laws of the motion for matter, biology gene expression, efficient drug development and efficient combustion of coal.

To observe the complete chain of disturbance from the solar athmosphere to the geo-space: Solar flares, interplanetary clouds, shock waves, geo-effectiveness (such as sub-storms and magnetic storms, aurora activities.

Four more satellites are chosen for Phase A study and launch after 2018.

AB Volvo divests the Group’s subsidiary Volvo Aero to the global engineering company GKN for an enterprise value of SEK 6.9 billion. (Pressrelease from Volvo. 5th of July 2012.)
 “GKN is a strong new owner for Volvo Aero,” says Volvo’s CEO Olof Persson. “GKN will provide Volvo Aero with the best possible conditions for continued advancement in its industry.”

At the end of November 2011 – in a step toward further refinement of the Volvo Group’s focus on heavy commercial vehicles – AB Volvo initiated a process to examine the possibility of finding a new owner for Volvo Aero. A basic premise for the divestment of Volvo Aero has always been that the new owner must be able to offer Volvo Aero a structure to enhance the company’s conditions for advancement in its industry.

AB Volvo has since carried out discussions with a number of potential buyers.
“Volvo Aero has attracted considerable interest, but in our opinion, GKN can offer the best conditions for Volvo Aero’s future advancement,” says Olof Persson. “This transaction will improve our chances to further refine and develop our core business in commercial vehicles, while providing Volvo Aero with an owner that has both the drive and the capacity to advance and strengthen the company.”

The transaction is scheduled for completion during the third quarter of 2012.

GKN plc is a global engineering company serving the automotive, aerospace and land systems markets. Based in Great Britain it has operations in more than 30 countries and around 45,000 employees in subsidiaries and joint ventures. In 2011, GKN saw sales of £6.1bn, of which £1.5bn was accounted for by GKN Aerospace.   

291 presentations!

Today I present photos from a few of all the presentations at SpaceOps 2012. (2012-06-21)    

Go to SpaceOps 2012.  

Gentry Lee from NASA is telling us - among other things - about the coming mission to Mars - Mars Science Laboratory. (I will write more about this very interesting and funny presentation later)

SpaceOps 2012           

The conference-center Waterfront is very new. SpaceOps booked this center when it was still beeing built. 

The King´s Speech:

At SpaceOps 2012 the Swedish King held the opening speech: 

It begins:

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I wish to welcome you to Sweden and Stockholm.

You have come from many different parts of the world, and you are all, more or less, engaged in the work with spacecraft missions.

The work you do is important and vital for our daily lives in terms of communication, navigation and infrastructure. Satellites are also essential tools in climate and environment research."

Read the rest of the speech at the Royal Swedish website! 

The King of Sweden visiting SpaceOps 2012.      

Click here and find photos of some of the exhibitors at SpaceOps 2012.   


International space conference in Stockholm 11-15th of June.


The King of Sweden opened the conference.

You can read about the space conference on the page
SpaceOps 2012.


The Swedish Space Corporation may be successful in USA.

In the magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology, senior editor Frank Morring writes 7th of May about foreign space companies in USA. Here you can read about the The Swedish Space Corporation. If you want to read about example number two, the new rocket Liberty built by ATK and Astrium, you can go to aviationweek.com.          (2012, May 19th)

Cubesats are the ultimate in miniature spacecraft, tiny orbiters that can be launched by the dozen as piggyback payloads at prices that bring them within reach of undergraduate engineering classes and even high schools. But when they run out of power, they are really just space debris. Now NASA is looking for ways to bring them back into the atmosphere before they smash into more valuable spacecraft.

The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC)

believes it has an answer, and it is following a trend in trying to globalize its technology by selling it in USA which is the biggest space market in the world. As the name suggests, SSC is one of the crown jewels in Sweden´s space-technology industry. Based in a Stockholm suburb, the company and its subsidiaries have built world-class satellites for the European Space Agency and developed niche technologies that could play right into NASA:s search.

SSC´s NanoSpace unit has developed miniaturized spacecraft thrusters using Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) fabrication technology. The tiny thruster systems have been partially validated in space, on the Prisma satellites that also proved out the non-hypergolic green propellant developed by another SSC subsidiary. They would seem to be a logical line of pursuit for NASA, which posted a request for information on its procurement website April 23 on ways to hold the risk of collisions between spent cubesats and other orbiting objects to less than 1 in 1.000.

“NanoSpace is indeed interested but needs to partner with a U.S. company or institution to be able to respond,” says SSC Executive Anne Ytterskog. The Swedish company is a subcontractor on NASA`s call for green alternatives to hydrazine and other toxic hypergolic propellants for spacecraft.

SSC`s Ecological Advanced Propulsion Systems (Ecaps) division has partnered with a U.S. prime to propose the ammonium dinitramide-based propellant LMP-103S that it validated in tests on the Prisma mission.

“There are a lot of barriers that we need to overcome,” Stefan Gardefjord, SSC´s new president and CEO, told Aviation Week at the recent National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

Beyond heritage and financial barriers, the Ecaps unit will also have to deal with U.S. federal regulations on doing business with foreign space companies. NASA stipulates that while it welcomes foreign technology, it will not fund off-shore research and will select non-U.S. companies only if a “no-exchange-of-funds” agreement can be reached. Partnering with U.S. companies is a way around that prohibition, and it is followed by overseas companies trying to market space technologies in the U.S. government marketplace.

Read more about the cooperation between Ecaps and an american company.


To put it simple you could say that the Swedish Space Industry consists of three big companies and many small. (2012-04-29)

The three big companies.

Volvo builds trucks, but also owns a company in the aviation business: Volvo Aero. Volvo Aero has for many years constructed parts for the engine used in Ariane. Volvo is now looking for a buyer of Volvo Aero. Volvo is a big company with only a fraction of its production in the space business.

RUAG Space used to be part of the aviation and military business at Saab. A few years ago the space company was sold to RUAG, which is owned by the government of Austria. RUAG Space spezialises in computers, antennas and separators.

SSC, short for Swedish Space Corporation, is owned by the Swedish government. It has a great advantage in owning a spaceport, Esrange, in the north of Sweden. There it is launching sounding rockets and huge balloons, and receiving signals from satellites. For many years, until last year, SSC was building satellites, but that part of the company was sold to OHB of Germany.

Sweden is too small?

It seems like Sweden is too small. The big space activities are sold abroad. That can be seen also when we look at two other successful companies. The telecom-company SES Sirius is only partly Swedish and the satellite-telephone company SweDish was sold to USA.

The small companies.

But there are many small space companies in Sweden and the number is streadily growing. These are some of the middle size companies: Carmenta, Omnisys, Gaisler, Jirotex, Sweco and Aacmicrotec.
And these are small: A.C.R. Electronic, Spacemetric, Forsway, C2SAT, Polymer, Telewide, YoYo, Umbilical. 

The governmental space programme is administrated by The Swedish National Space Board. 


SpaceOps 2012: Big space conference in Stockholm.
The King of Sweden participates in opening ceremony.

The swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang, the world-famous wild-life photographer Mattias Klum and Swedish space-pioneer Sven Grahn will deliver speeches. Representatives from all major space agencys in the world will attend.  
(April 5th 2012)    


The biggest international space conference ever held in Sweden kicks off June 11th this year and will last for five days. The organization SpaceOps has organized this conference every other year in different parts of the world since the early 90's. SpaceOps brings together the world's major players in the field "operation of spacecrafts." The location of the event is the Conference Center Waterfront in Stockholm.

Chairman of the Swedish Organizing Committee is Annika Benson at Swedish Space Corporation (SSC). Arielspace met her and talked about the conference.

Between 11th and 15th of June, representatives of a number of space agencies, space companies, universities and military organizations gather to communicate with each other and listen to lectures on space activities. The conference is organized by SSC (former Rymdbolaget) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The initiative comes from The International Committee on Technical Interchange for Space Mission Operations and Ground Data Systems, abbreviated SpaceOps.

The purpose of the conference is to discuss the operation of different systems (ie, not the production of spacecraft). In previous years the focus has been on the operation of satellites, but new this year is that they also will be talking about rockets and research balloons.

Each morning the delegates will be able to participate in a large plenary session. The rest of the time, 8 parallel series of lectures will be held. They will cover the following themes:

Mission Execution
Data and Communications System Facilities
Mission Design and Mission Management
Training and Knowledge Transfer
Cross Support, Interoperability and Standards
Commercial Space Operations
Launcher, Rockets and Balloon Operations
University Space Operations

One of these topics interests me more than the others: Commercial Space Operations. Details of this series of lectures has not been published yet but they will cover:

Spacecraft operations
Ground operations
Private public partnerships
Commercial orbital transportation services
Commercial crew development
Space tourism

Annika Benson says that international interest in the conference has been great. There will be 600 participants and 80% of exhibition space is already taken. The organizers have a number of sponsors but they hope to get more sponsors interested. A sponsor can help fund a specific event, such as a lunch, and then have an opportunity to communicate what they do to this important and large group of people in the space industry. 

The task of organizing this year's conference went to SSC and The German Aerospace Center. Annika Benson says that they received the go-ahead as early as 2009 to organize the 2012 conference. SSC booked the newly built Stockholm Waterfront before the house was completed! She explained to me how the organizing committee walked around the building site and looked around, with helmets on!
It is a major task to organize such a large conference, even if the task were divided between SSC, The German Aerospace Center and the eventcompany Congrex. Annika Benson will be like a commander in chief throughout the conference, ready to tackle any unexpected problems!
About 500 lectures were received for the conference and 300 of them have been selected to be in SpaceOps 2012. There will be 50 poster exhibitors and 20 so-called e-poster exhibitors.

Participants can take part in some social events in the evenings, such as a "gala dinner" at the Vasa Museum June 14. The weekend after the conference, participants who are interested can travel to Kiruna in northern Sweden, get a guided tour of Esrange, visit a Same village and LKAB's mine and get information about the Ice Hotel.

Fee for participation in the conference was 5500 SEK for those who signed up before March 15th and is 7000 SEK until June 1. If you just want to drop in on SpaceOps it costs 8000 SEK. The trip to Kiruna cost 5900 SEK.

Read more at the web-site of the conferense: SpaceOps 2012             


I saw Sputnik when I was 4 years old. (2012-03-23)

This is my memories of Sputnik, the little football-sized satellite with antennas sticking out that the Soviet Union sent out into space in 1957. Sputnik launched the space era. And I saw Sputnik ... or did I?

One never gets to keep believing in their illusions. But I got to keep believing in this illusion for decades. This is a very personal story about Sputnik. 
I was four years old and my dad told me that I could stay up later than usual one night because we were going out to watch a Sputnik. I didn’t know what a Sputnik was and it made me a little nervous. When it got dark, and my little sister was sleeping my father, mother and I went outside our house. We lived in an apartment block and outside our house stood many adults looking towards the sky. It was a starry night. It was cold.

We stood there waited. And waited. My dad got the idea that we would go around the house and stand on the sidewalk in order to scout the other way. It all felt more and more eerie. I began to feel a real fear of the Sputnik that was suppose to show up in the sky. What was a Sputnik? What would happen?

Finally I was so scared that I wanted to go inside. "Go inside then, we will come in soon," said my mother. I went back around the house. But before I got into the house, someone called out to me, "Ariel, look up! There is Sputniken!" I looked up at the starry sky. There, there! A small bright dot moving across the sky. It looked like one of the stars moved. The bright dot traveled quickly across the night sky and then it was gone.

A few years later I found out that the year had been 1957 and that Sputnik was a Russian satellite, in fact, the world's first satellite. I was a part of the space era from the very beginning.

But it was all an illusion. In 2002, I interviewed former information manager Sven Grahn at the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC). According to him, Sputnik was too small for me to see from earth. What we saw outside our house in 1957 was the last rocket stage of the launch. The rocket stage also went into orbit and was large enough to be able to reflect the sun and become visible from earth.

Somehow it sounds better to say that I saw the first satellite than to say that I saw the last rocket stage from the first satellite launch.

Volvo Aero, manufacturer of aerospace components, among them space propulsion sub-systems, is up for sale.

"As a step in further streamlining the Volvo Group towards heavy commercial vehicles, AB Volvo has initiated a process aimed at divesting Volvo Aero."
(Press release from Volvo Group. November 21, 2011)
“One of the prerequisites for a transaction being implemented is that a divestment could enable Volvo Aero to enter into a structure that would enhance the company’s opportunities for further development in its sector,” says Volvo CEO Olof Persson. “Another requirement is that we are paid a reasonable price. We are currently conducting talks with a number of potential buyers, but these are still at an early stage and no definite decisions have been made.

Volvo Aero is today a leading manufacturer of aerospace components and its products are found in more than 90% of the world’s large civil aircraft.

Since streamlining towards commercial vehicles was initiated by the Volvo Group at the end of the 1990s, in conjunction with the divestment of Volvo Car Corporation, the Group has expanded to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of heavy duty trucks, buses, construction equipment, industrial and marine engines and heavy duty diesel engines.  


OHB Buys SSC’s Space Systems Division

Fast-growing satellite and rocket hardware manufacturer OHB of Germany, which already has operations in Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg, has established a foothold in Sweden with the purchase of the Space Systems division of SSC, officials with the companies said.
(Space News. 24 June 2011)

The transaction, described as an asset deal in which OHB assumes the risks of the Space Systems division’s future performance, was concluded for a symbolic price of 1 Swedish krona, or about 15 U.S. cents, according to two officials.

The Space Systems division has reported revenue of about 10 million euros ($14 million) per year in recent years and counts 53 employees who will remain where they are and will be organized under the name of OHB Sweden, OHB Chief Executive Marco R. Fuchs said June 23.

In an interview, Fuchs said OHB hopes to take advantage of any increase in Swedish government space spending in the coming years. Sweden’s space budget is not increasing now, and SSC — 100 percent government-owned but operated as a profit-making enterprise — had been trying to sell the Space Systems division for about a year.

The Space Systems division includes SSC’s work as a subcontractor on the OHB-led Small-Geo satellite platform, which is being financed by the 19-nation European Space Agency (ESA). Fuchs said OHB wanted to consolidate the Small-Geo contracting team and that a purchase of the Swedish team by a larger company might have meant relocating it or shutting it down.

In a June 20 statement, OHB said SSC has “an essential share in the development and construction of the [Small-Geo] platform, which is of material importance to the OHB Group.”

In a transaction that had similar motivations, OHB recently purchased the Belgian operations of Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy when the Franco-Italian manufacturer decided that the Belgian operation was too small to be retained on its own.

Under ESA’s geographic-return rules, each nation contributing to an ESA program is promised that most of its contribution will return in the form of contracts to its national industry. The new OHB Sweden thus stands to gain with any increase in Swedish space spending.

SSC Chief Executive Lars Persson said June 22 that SSC is glad the transfer of ownership was done with a company that already works with the Space Systems division.

“It is really a good fit and it will be good for OHB to open operations in a new country,” Persson said in an interview. “This is very much the right step for the people in the division, and for the industry. The division is going into a bigger company with a full order book.”

Persson confirmed that SSC had been trying to sell the division for a year and had reviewed other possible transactions that offered less in the way of growth for the division.

In addition to its work on the Small-Geo satellite platform, the new OHB Sweden manages the Swedish Prisma two-satellite formation-flying system, which includes an experimental satellite fuel that SSC believes one day should replace hydrazine.

The German space agency, DLR, has recently leased the Prisma system from SSC to test its capabilities and give Germany a better idea for future formation-flying projects.

“This is a buildup of expertise that has occurred over more than 20 years,” Persson said of the division. He said OHB has made no commitment to retain the staff in Sweden, and he declined to comment on whether the transaction’s terms included a cash investment by SSC to sweeten the offer.

Swedish Space Corporation to sell satellite division.

The government-owned Swedish Space Corp. is soliciting bids for its satellite division and is expected to conclude a sale by the end of the year, Lars Persson, the company’s chief executive, said Oct. 7.
(Space News. Oct.7.) 

(Arielspace: Usually I never copy a complete text, I just quote shorter parts. But the fact that Sweden is giving up something that has taken 30 years to build up makes me very upset. It is stupid. Read everything here that Space News is writing about the sale.)

The satellite division, which was responsible for Europe’s Smart-1 lunar orbiting mission and, more recently, the two Prisma satellites that are testing a new satellite propellant and formation-flying techniques, is likely to be purchased by a strategic investor, Persson said in an interview.

Persson did not disclose whether any formal bids had been received. He said he expected several companies will be interested in taking over a division whose technologies include propellants that are both user friendly and more efficient, and the ability to fly satellites in extremely close proximity.

“The consolidation of the space industry and of space projects in Europe” is what is driving the sale, Persson said. “We have seen it in recent projects like the Sentinel [Earth observation] satellites and the recent MTG [meteorological] satellite bidding. Projects are getting too big to remain isolated.”

The intellectual property rights associated with the satellite division’s technologies will be part of the package, he said.

The satellite division counts about 60 employees and reports, on average, 20 million euros ($17.5 million) in annual revenue, Persson said. Swedish Space Corp. (SSC) has hired an outside financial advisor to help with valuation assessments and with organizing the bidding, he said.

While the government has not given orders about who would be an acceptable owner, Persson said it is clear that prospective buyers realize that the division will need to remain mostly in Sweden in order to take advantage of Swedish government space spending. Persson said SSC is not ruling out selling 100 percent of the division, but could keep a minority stake.

Several companies in the past couple of years have demonstrated a willingness to consolidate Europe’s space industrial sector, which has been created over the past three decades in part as companies are fed with European Space Agency (ESA) and national space agency contracts on condition that the funds and the industrial base remains in the home country.

The 18-nation ESA has begun taking steps to modify the way it awards contracts so as not to block what government and industry officials say is a necessary reduction in the number of small, independent companies that have trouble surviving in the commercial market.

ESA spending for 2010 and 2011 will be flat from 2009, and the agency’s near-term financial prospects show little chance of major budget increases, giving small companies nowhere to turn but to their national governments — where spending is also flat, for the most part — and the commercial market.

Persson said the sale of the satellite division should be seen as a way to give Swedish-born satellite technologies room to grow inside a larger corporate structure in ways that SSC cannot assure.

Several companies have been active in the past couple of years in rolling up small operations into a single corporation while retaining the staff in their home countries to assure government support. Ruag Space AG of Zurich, whose equity is owned by the Swiss government, has purchased the largest space industry contractors in Switzerland, Austria and Sweden and would be one logical candidate to buy SSC’s satellite division, industry officials said.

Other potential buyers would include Qinetiq of Britain, which has a presence in Belgium and the United States; and OHB Technology of Germany, which in recent years has developed divisions in Italy and Belgium. 

The Prisma-satellites have separated.

The Swedish Prisma formation flying and rendezvous satellites, named Mango and Tango, have now been separated. The satellites have been clamped together since the successful launch in June.

From the mission control center, the SSC engineers report:
”Telemetry indicated that Tango was free flying and had stabilised itself in a slowly rotating sun pointing attitude. Battery was nominal and solar array is working. Everything is fine aboard Tango. The GPS navigation shows that the relative trajectory is nominal: distance had increased to about 120m. The relative velocity at separation was at the right magnitude and the induced momentum was very good. Tango only had to remove a tumbling of about 1 deg/s. We got the first few images down to ground during the first pass after separation. All systems look to be working as expected.”

This was only the beginning, now the series of navigation experiments and flight demonstrations can begin. Follow the reporting from SSC’s mission control center at www.prismasatellites.se  . 


The Swedish Prisma satellites have been successfully launched aboard a Dnepr launcher from Yasny, Russia, today at 14.42 UTC. Sixteen minutes after launch, the two Prisma satellites were released, clamped together in launch configuration.
(Pressrelease: Swedish Space Corporation. 15th of June 2010) 
The mission control center of the Swedish Space Corporation had its first contact with Prisma 16.14 UTC. The operations team could verify that the solar array panels had been deployed as planned and that the satellites are in a nominal state. During the coming days, all subsystems on both satellites will be successively verified, leading up to the planned separation of the satellites – Mango and Tango – on 3 August.

Prisma will demonstrate break-through technologies for autonomous formation flying and rendezvous. The mission comprises the verification of innovative systems for guidance, navigation and control, software and sensors as well as two propulsion systems. The series of experiments will commence after the separation in August and continue for ten months.

The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) is the prime contractor for Prisma and has developed the major part of the onboard technologies and navigation experiments as well as the mission control software. The German Aerospace Center DLR, the French space agency CNES and the Danish University of Technology have contributed with navigation experiments, software and sensors.

The environmentally benign propulsion system and the micropropulsion system demonstrated onboard are developed by the SSC companies ECAPS and NanoSpace and make their first spaceflight on Prisma.

The Swedish National Space Board is the initiator of the Prisma mission and finances the project with support from the space agencies of France and Germany.

“Prisma is an excellent platform for the Swedish space industry to qualify its inventions in space”, says Olle Norberg, Director General of the Swedish National Space Board. “The mission will fortify Sweden’s position as a prominent technology nation and hopefully open doors to new international space projects where we can contribute.”

“SSC is a renowned player in the international space business”, says Lars Persson, CEO of the Swedish Space Corporation. “We really look forward to once again proving our capabilities in satellite development and control, and to the verification of our unique innovations such as the propulsion systems, which we expect to be very prosperous on the international market. We also appreciate the very rewarding cooperation we have with our European partners in this project.”

Technologies for autonomous formation flying and rendezvous are required in scientific missions where two or more spacecraft need to interact to form powerful antennas and telescopes. These innovations are also essential in missions that involve docking and inspections of satellites in orbit.



Updated 10/11/2022
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