Sweden Moves Toward Legal Regime to Allow Space Tourism Flights

How Spaceport Sweden plans for suborbital flights
Press Release
30 September 2008

Dr. Olle Norberg held his presentation at the IAC 2008 today, talking about “issues to consider in the space tourism era – how Spaceport Sweden plans for suborbital flights.”

Today’s paper had two main themes:

  • an outline of the available infrastructure and services of Spaceport Sweden, and
  • a discussion of a possible way to obtain a permit to fly personal spaceflight vehicles in Sweden – in the absence of a European legal framework for such flights.

In Europe in general and in Sweden in particular there is no corresponding legal framework for commercial space transportation that also covers personal spaceflight. Such a comprehensive framework will probably not be in place within the next five years. Therefore a permit to fly Virgin Galactic’s vehicle or similar vehicles from Spaceport Sweden in the near term must be based on an approach different from that of the U.S.

The legal framework for personal flights from Sweden is actually one of our most important questions for the moment. A license to perform such flights in the near term needs to be based on an interim approach. A way to obtain a permit to fly in Sweden may be to apply under two different legal regimes – that of Sweden’s Space Law and that of the legal framework for aviation.

In January 2007 Spaceport Sweden signed an agreement with Virgin Galactic to perform an assessment study on performing flights of SpaceShipTwo in Kiruna. This study, covering everything from operational to legal aspects, is now coming to an end. It has shown that there are no major obstacles to overcome before commercial suborbital flights with either winged or vertical launch vehicles can commence. The study established that the required infrastructure already exists, and Spaceport Sweden is indeed open for business for any personal spaceflight operator, either for permanent or temporary operations.