Rocket launched from Sweden accidentally lands in Norway

The wayward rocket launched from the Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden lands in an uninhabited area of Norway.

rocket sweden norway
A rocket launches from the Esrange Space Center in Sweden in November. Onboard were scientific experiments, including work into particle research that could shine a light on how planets originated [Courtesy: Sweden Space Corp]

A research rocket launched by Sweden Space Corp (SSC) from northern Sweden has malfunctioned and landed 15km (9.3 miles) inside neighbouring Norway.

The rocket was part of a research programme in which experiments are carried out in zero gravity at 250km (155 miles) above the Earth. However, the rocket took a “slightly longer and more westerly trajectory than expected”, according to an SSC statement.

The projectile landed on Monday in an uninhabited region in Målselv municipality, 40km (25 miles) northwest of the planned target location in Sweden. It was unclear if there was any damage to the surrounding area.

The rocket was a TEXUS-58 and is part of a European initiative commissioned by the European Space Agency.

Researchers said they hope experiments carried out by the rocket will contribute to the transition away from fossil fuels to green energy technology as well as help understand how planets are born.

The rocket was launched from the Esrange Space Center, which is surrounded by a large landing area about twice the size of Luxembourg.

“It landed in the mountains at 1,000 metres altitude and 10km [6.2 miles] from the closest settlement,” said Philip Ohlsson, head of communications at SSC.

“There is a routine in place when things go wrong, and we inform both Swedish and Norwegian governments and other actors,” he said.

The SCC said the rocket was recovered on Tuesday in “good condition” and was transported back to the centre by helicopter. An investigation is under way to determine what led to the malfunction.

“This is a deviation that we take seriously,” said Marko Kohberg, head of rocket and balloon operations at Esrange Space Center. “We are now investigating the reason why the rocket flew farther northwest than normal. It is still too early to speculate about the cause.”

Norwegian officials responded sharply to the incident and said they were not informed.

“The Norwegian authorities take any unauthorised activity on the Norwegian side of the border very seriously,” a spokesperson from its foreign ministry said.

In the event of any border violation, those responsible should immediately inform the relevant Norwegian authorities, including the foreign ministry, through the right channels, the spokesperson said.

The ministry had not yet received a formal notification of the incident from the Swedish authorities, she said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies