A research rocket launched from Sweden’s recently opened Arctic Circle spaceport landed over the border in Norway this week — triggering a backlash from Oslo.
Instead of coming down in Sweden as planned, the microgravity scientific rocket instead hit a mountainous region in Norway, some 40 kilometers west of the intended landing zone and 15 kilometers over the international border, according to the Swedish Space Corporation.
The Norwegian government was displeased with its Nordic neighbor, arguing it should report such incidents more thoroughly.
“The crash of a rocket like this is a very serious incident that can cause serious damage,” the Norwegian foreign ministry said. “When such a border violation occurs, it is crucial that those responsible immediately inform the relevant Norwegian authorities through the proper channels.”
The SCC said it was working to retrieve the remains and that an investigation will be started to probe what caused the “non-nominal flight path.” There were no reports of casualties or damage resulting from the Texus-58 rocket crash landing.
The rogue rocket is embarrassing for the launchpad operator since the European Space Agency (ESA) and some space startups have big plans to use Sweden’s Esrange site for cutting-edge tests, including of reusable launcher systems that could be used in the future to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen officially opened the site in January, but Esrange also has competition, with similar facilities for launching smaller payloads into orbit planned for Portugal’s Azores, Norway’s Andøya island — which is some 400 kilometers northwest of Kiruna — and a facility on the Shetland Islands in Scotland.
There are even plans to build a floating launchpad in the North Sea off the German coast.