Sweden Accidentally Fires Rocket Into Norway

Its neighbor, a little peeved, claims notice wasn't relayed through 'proper channels'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2023 9:50 AM CDT

Monday morning is perhaps not the best time for a rocket launch, as Sweden may have learned when it fired off a research rocket, only to have it land off target in neighboring Norway. The rocket launched at 7:20am local time Monday from the Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden, reaching zero gravity some 155 miles above the Earth, where it carried out experiments related to solar cells and potential carbon-free fuels, according to the Swedish Space Corporation, which owns the center. It then plunged back to Earth, landing 25 miles off target and 9.3 miles into Norwegian territory, per the BBC. No injury or damage was reported, as the mountainous landing site in the far northern area of Malselv is a little over 6 miles from the nearest inhabited area. Norway wasn't happy, regardless.

"The Norwegian authorities take any unauthorized activity on the Norwegian side of the border very seriously," said a rep for Norway's Foreign Ministry, adding the ministry "did not get formal notification, and when an incident like this happens across the border it's important that those responsible immediately inform the Norwegian authorities through proper channels," given the potential for "large damage," per the BBC and Al Jazeera. Norway's Civil Aviation Authority said it only learned of the incident from the SSC's press release, per Deutsche Welle. Esrange officials countered that Norwegian Armed Forces were notified of the launch in advance and were contacted again shortly after the landing, per Sky News and the BBC.

Still, the SSC has apologized and is looking into what went wrong. "This is a deviation that we take seriously," said Marko Kohberg, head of rocket and balloon operations at the space center, which had carried out the launch as part of a program commissioned by the European Space Agency, per the BBC. "We are now investigating the reason why the rocket flew farther northwest than normal," Kohberg continued, per Al Jazeera, adding "it is still too early to speculate about the cause." The payload, which descended with a parachute, has been recovered in "good condition" and returned to the center by helicopter, the SSC said. (More Sweden stories.)

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