This handout picture shows an artist’s impression of an international space airport in Kiruna. Kiruna, the northernmost city in Sweden, hopes to develop space tourism in 10 years by building an international space airport like this one.

Arctic town eyes future as Europe’s gateway to space

December 17, 2012 by Camille Bas-Wohlert

Sweden’s small Arctic town of Kiruna has a surprisingly international airport with regular flights to London and Tokyo, but it has even bigger plans: to offer commercial space flights.

Spaceport Sweden, a company founded in 2007, hopes to be able to provide the first flights within a decade from Kiruna’s airport.

“We’re working on establishing commercial flights from Sweden to space for tourism and research, and to create a launching pad at the airport,” explained the company’s enthusiastic director, Karin Nilsdotter, seated in her office at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF).

The idea is that space tourists would take off for a maximum two-hour trip into space aboard futuristic spacecraft currently undergoing testing, which resemble a cross between an airplane and a space shuttle and which can carry between one and six passengers.

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