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Northern Lights flights a stepping stone to space tourism

Spaceport Sweden : 26 March, 2013  (Company News)
A Swedish spaceport is collaborating with Space Expedition Corporation to offer space tourism flight to experience the northern lights

On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, a group of future astronauts with the Dutch space flight operator Space Expedition Corporation flew on board Spaceport Sweden’s northern light flight, a unique educational experience developed together with Swedish airline Direktflyg and the Swedish Institute of Space Physics.

“Kiruna has ideal geographical conditions for watching Aurora Borealis and Spaceport Sweden’s specialized northern lights flights are a milestone in our mission to establish Kiruna as a world-leading destination for space tourism. Our collaboration with Space Expedition Corporation is an example of how Spaceport Sweden works closely together with actors in the global space tourism industry to offer future astronauts the chance to prepare for space here on earth and in the air,” says Karin Nilsdotter, CEO of Spaceport Sweden.

Located in Swedish Lapland, 200 kilometers above the Arctic Circle, Kiruna is situated in the Northern Light oval where conditions for seeing Aurora Borealis are ideal. Every year during the winter and fall seasons, between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors to Kiruna watch the enthralling light phenomenon. By offering to take sky watchers above the clouds, Spaceport Sweden broadens the region’s already excellent options for seeing northern lights. In addition to offering an optimal and weatherproof view of Aurora Borealis, the flights also connect passengers with Kiruna’s 60-year tradition of northern lights research. Tickets for the northern lights flights cost from SEK 6,610 (about USD 1,000) and are sold by Spaceport Sweden’s partners and ticketing agents.

“The collaboration with Spaceport Sweden allows us as a space flight operator to offer our future astronauts a range of unforgettable experiences. While our clients’ experiences will culminate in a suborbital space flight, we also want to offer them other experiences on the way to space, such as northern lights flights,” says Michiel Mol, CEO of Space Expedition Corporation.

Before the flight on Wednesday, passengers received a briefing by Dr Urban Brändström, a leading northern lights researcher at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics. The hour-long flight onboard a Jetstream 32 left Kiruna airport at 9 pm and headed straight towards the magnetic north pole before turning back over Tromsø, Norway. From 4,700 meters up in the air, passengers enjoyed a world-class view of northern lights that despite interference from competing moonlight was measured at a four on a 10-graded intensity scale.

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