Firefly Aerospace to Launch Alpha Rocket from Sweden’s Esrange Space Centre

Credit: Firefly Aerospace

, a prominent U.S. space transportation company, has forged an agreement with the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) to conduct launches of its rocket from the in northern . The collaborative announcement on June 27 marks a significant step towards expanding orbital launch capabilities in .

According to SSC, launches of Firefly’s are slated to commence from Esrange Launch Complex 3C starting in 2026. Modifications to the launch pad are already underway to accommodate these operations, which aim to serve commercial, civil, and defense customers across Europe.

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“With the inaugural Alpha launch scheduled for 2026, the new complex will support commercial customers in the broader European market and enable tactically responsive space missions to further advance national security for NATO countries,” stated SSC in a release.

Esrange Space Centre, operational since 1966, has primarily facilitated sounding rocket launches for microgravity and atmospheric research. The expansion into orbital launch capabilities, inaugurated in January 2023, underscores Sweden’s strategic role in European space initiatives.

Charlotta Sund, CEO of SSC, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration, highlighting its potential impact on the global launch market and the transatlantic link between Sweden and the U.S. “Reducing the current gap of orbital launch sites in Europe, this collaboration strengthens the Swedish NATO membership’s access to unique space capabilities,” Sund remarked.

The agreement comes shortly after Firefly’s decision to relocate its launch operations from to Wallops Island, Virginia, and a recent multi-launch deal with through 2029.

Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace, emphasized the significance of expanding orbital launch capabilities globally: “The future of spaceflight requires more orbital launch sites across the globe as we continue to see growing demand among domestic and international launch customers.”

Firefly Aerospace is gearing up for its upcoming Alpha rocket launch on July 2, carrying eight CubeSats as part of ‘s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). The Alpha rocket, capable of carrying payloads up to 1,030 kilograms to low Earth orbit, aims to deliver reliable and cost-effective access to space for a range of missions.

In recent developments, SSC also entered into its first orbital launch partnership with South Korean rocket company Perigee Aerospace, further expanding Europe’s access to orbital launch capabilities beyond traditional sites in French Guiana.

With Esrange and Norway’s Andøya Spaceport joining the roster of European orbital launch sites, along with Scotland’s SaxaVord Spaceport, Europe is poised to enhance its role in global space operations and satellite deployment in the years ahead.

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