Swedish space research rocket accidentally lands in Norway
Image credit: Sweden Space Corp
Sweden and Norway have clashed over the launch of a Swedish microgravity research rocket which malfunctioned and crashed into Norwegian lands.
Sweden's space agency has faced criticism after its microgravity research rocket accidentally landed in Norway.
The Swedish rocket has already been retrieved from the Norweigan mountains. However, the country has faced criticism from Norway, as the country's foreign minister complained it had not been properly notified about the malfunction.
“The crash of a rocket like this is a very serious incident that can cause serious damage,” said Norweigan foreign ministry spokesperson Ragnhild Simenstad. “When such a border violation occurs, it is crucial that those responsible immediately inform the relevant Norwegian authorities through the proper channels.”
The rocket lifted off on Monday morning from the Esrange Space Center in Sweden. It was able to successfully reach an altitude of 250km, where it carried out several experiments in zero gravity, as planned.
On its return, the rocket took a "slightly longer and more westerly trajectory than expected", Sweden Space Corp (SSC) said, and landed in a Norweigan mountain range, 15km from the border and around 40km north-west of the planned landing site.
The rocket, named TEXUS-58, is part of a European program commissioned by the European Space Agency.
Once it reached microgravity, the payload allowed scientists to conduct three experiments. The first was the VIPer experiment, aimed at improving the quality of crystalline materials to produce more efficient solar cells. The second experiment was named Perwaves, and looked at the combustion of iron powder in weightlessness, with a view towards designing green engines.
Finally, the ICAPS experiment allowed researchers to investigate the very first moment when planets form in space, and obtain data that could provide answers about the birth of planet Earth.
The payload was recovered on Tuesday and transported back to Esrange by helicopter, with all its instruments "in good condition", according to the SSC. The agency also revealed it had opened an investigation to determine the technical details around the non-nominal flight path.
The rocket's crash did not cause any injuries or damage any materials and the crash site was reportedly located in the Målselv municipality, "10km from the closest settlement", according to SSC officials.
“This is a deviation that we take seriously. We are now investigating the reason why the rocket flew further north-west than nominal. It is still too early to speculate about the cause, and we await more information from the current investigation,” said Marko Kohberg, head of sounding rocket and balloon operations at Esrange Space Center.
The SSC claimed to have contacted both Norwegian and Swedish authorities to notify them of the malfunction shortly after the landing took place. However, Norwegian officials said the Swedish authorities failed to officially notify them.
“The Norwegian authorities take any unauthorised activity on the Norwegian side of the border very seriously,” a spokesperson from its foreign ministry said.
Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority said it had learned of the crash from the Swedish Space Corporation’s press release.
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