Fuglesang blasts Sweden space commitment

Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang has lashed out at his country for what he sees as an insufficient budget commitment for space research and exploration.

Fuglesang blasts Sweden space commitment

Fuglesang also wonders why “space minister” Maud Olofsson chose to skip a recent gathering of top European space officials which took place recently in the Netherlands.

Last week the European Space Agency (ESA) arranged a summit in the Dutch capital, which included top space officials from the body’s 18 member states, to discuss Europe’s long term space initiatives.

The meeting is only held once every three years, and in his latest newsletter, Fuglesang expresses his disappointment with the results.

He had hoped that the meeting would result in a concrete proposal regarding manned spaceflight.

“I’m even more disappointed in Sweden, where the space budget has been reduced and no new initiatives can be done at all,” said Fuglesang, who became the first and only Sweden to travel in space when he traveled on the space shuttle Discovery in December 2006.

He is concerned as well about the future of Volvo Aero’s space division once Sweden withdraws from the Ariane rocket programme.

Volvo Aero has been part involved with the Arianne programme since the 1970s, and Sweden’s decision to instead focus its space programme on terrestrial observation and telecommunications could result in the loss of 150 jobs at the company’s space division in Trollhättan.

Fredrik Fryklund, a spokesperson for Volvo Aero, called the move a political decision which puts dozens of jobs at risk in a region already suffering from the economic downturn.

“There’s no return if Sweden quits now. Then we are out of the project for good,” he said to TT.

He said that if the division doesn’t receive any new orders, the jobs could disappear as early as next year.

Fuglesang also voiced his frustration that Olofsson skipped out on the Hague summit.

A spokesperson for the minister, Frans Nilsson, explained that most of Olofsson’s time has been taken up with crises in the financial and auto industries.