Swedish rocket accidentally lands in Norway, sparking criticism | Tech News

A Swedish rocket landed over the border in neighbouring Norway (Picture: Mattias Forsberg/SSC)

The week after SpaceX’s Starship suffered its ‘rapid unscheduled disassembly’, a Swedish rocket has taken a ‘non-nominal flight path’ – and accidentally landed in Norway, causing friction with its Nordic neighbour.

Launched by the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), the rocket took off from Esrange Space Center in the north of the country at 7.20am local time (6.20 BST) on Monday. It reached an altitude of 155miles, where a series of experiments were carried out in zero gravity.

Having successfully completed its mission the rocket returned to Earth – but 25miles northwest of where it should have, landing around nine miles over the border into Norway and more than 3,000ft up a mountain. No damage has been reported around the landing site, which was six miles from the nearest settlement.

SSC recovered the payload – the scientific instruments on board – in good condition and transported it back to Esrange by helicopter, but in doing so may have sparked a diplomatic incident.

While SSC said it reported the situation to authorities on both sides of the border, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had not received a formal notification of the incident from Swedish authorities before the recovery was carried out.

‘The Norwegian authorities take any unauthorised activity on the Norwegian side of the border very seriously,’ a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said by email.

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

The ministry had not received a formal notification of the incident from the Swedish authorities, she said, and work on Norwegian territory to salvage any wreckage also required prior consent.

Reflecting on the non-nominal flight path, head of sounding rocket and balloon operations at Esrange Space Center Marko Kohberg said: ‘This is a deviation that we take seriously. We are now investigating the reason why the rocket flew further northwest than nominal. 

‘It is still too early to speculate about the cause, and we await more information from the current investigation.’

The rocket, TEXUS-58, is part of a European program commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA).

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