Finland should pump more money into its Sodankylä satellite data center as part of a permanent funding increase for space operations that would allow the country to tap into expanding commercial and research opportunities, a report commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Office has concluded.
Finnish space operations include environmental monitoring, telecommunications and positioning and navigation services. But the most important element of the country’s national space infrastructure is the Sodankylä facility. Located some 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, the facility — and its data-processing and earth-observation activities — is considered Finland’s main contribution to multinational space operations.
The additional funding called for in the report would be used to add additional antennas, expand the frequencies the facility can receive and build out data-processing capacity and distribution channels.
In its 2013-2020 space strategy, Arctic-related applications were identified as one of four priorities for the national space program. And by 2022, the Finnish space industry is hoping to reach a value of €600 million ($650 million) and double the value of its exports.
Although it does not see itself becoming a leader in space exploration, Finland believes that European countries and the E.U. should increase funding in order to keep pace with developments in China and the U.S.
“By becoming a partner of a broad chain of a space system or service operations, even a small player will have access to the competitiveness and continuity of the broader system,” the report said.
International space partnerships with the U.S. and the E.U., the report finds, are also important for Finland’s security, and for achieving its goal of “peaceful and sustainable exploitation of the Arctic region.”