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sweden's space presence, including a short history

Galileo satellite launch delayed

Published torsdag 20 oktober 2011 kl 15.28
"You're always a bit nervous"
(4:35 min)
The Galileo satelite will launch with the help of a Russian Soyuz rocket, positioned at the European spaceport in French Guiana and awaiting launch. Photo: S. Corvaja / AP / Scanpix

The launch of the first parts of the Galileo satellite navigation system has been delayed after an anomaly was discovered during fueling this morning. The satellites are Europe's answer to the American global positioning system and they contain several parts from Sweden.

The whole Gallileo system is expected to be completed in 2020, by which time all 30 satellites in the system, including a three spares, will have been launched.

The first two satellites of the Galileo system were to be launced from Kourou, French Guiana today. The European Union ordered the system to give them independence from the American GPS, and Galileo is supposed to be more accurate in pinponting location to within the range of a meter.

The whole Gallileo system is expected to be completed in 2020, by which time all 30 satellites in the system, including a three spares, will have been launched.

Almost a tenth of the value of what is aboard the satellites comes from Sweden, from the central computer and navigation signal generator to the antenas and even the separation mechanism that detaches the satellite from the rocket once its reached orbit.

Ruag Space, formerly Saab Ericsson Space, has been developing and making the parts at its headquarters in Gothenburg. Folke Brundin, a spokesperson for the company, tells Radio Sweden he was sorry to see the launch delayed, but says that postponements like this one are quite common in the space business, since anything from weather conditions to an anomaly in the equipment can be reason enough to wait.

This project is hardly Sweden's first taste of space though. In fact, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the nation's forays beyond earth's atmosphere. It was the 14th of August, 1961, when Sweden launched its first rocket, Plutnik.

Five years after, Sweden built its first space base up in Kiruna, and decades later, the first astronaut from the Nordic countries came from Sweden.

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