Esrange Space Center Damaged by Fire

The fire that broke out yesterday morning at Esrange during a scheduled static firing test of a solid rocket motor, partially damaged the infrastructure used for launching sounding rockets. The remaining operations at Esrange, which is one of the world’s most versatile space bases, are not affected by the incident.

Esrange Space Center is one of the world’s most versatile space bases, including a number of functions that are important to our society. The base is currently being expanded with new capability for further utilization of space.

The fire did not cause any damages to the majority of the ongoing operations at Esrange. Satellite operations and communications, stratospheric balloons and the newly established rocket testing facility was not affected, nor was the ongoing expansion for the planned satellite launches.

However, the fire caused damage to parts of the launching facility for sounding rockets (rockets conducting research in microgravity) used at Esrange since the 60’s, as well as parts of the nearby buildings. No one was injured in the incident.

“Most important is that our staff and everyone else who were at the base are safe. But there are many sad faces at Esrange today. The sounding rocket operations is somewhat the heart of Esrange since this was where it all began more than fifty years ago”, says Lennart Poromaa, SSC Site Manager.

The Rescue Services left the site late Thursday evening. An investigation is now being carried out to find the cause of the accident and evaluate how to resume the sounding rocket operations.

“It is still too early to say what caused the fire. SSC will seek external assistance to investigate the incident together with our own experts, in order to avoid similar incidents in the future”, says Stefan Gardefjord, SSC CEO.

“Now, it is important to resume our sounding rocket operations as quickly as possible. These rockets carry important experiments for research purposes within various areas. We are now working intensively to see how we can resume this part of our business again”, says Lennart Poromaa.

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