Sweden celebrated its first citizen in space Sunday, after the space shuttle Discovery carrying Christer Fuglesang and six other astronauts made a successful launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
"Finally! Sweden is in space," read a large headline in national tabloid Expressen, summing up the feelings of a nation gripped by a cosmic fever not seen since American astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969.
Fuglesang's adventure has received play-by-play media coverage for weeks, and the shuttle launch was broadcast live on two TV networks even though it took place at 2:47 a.m. Swedish time (0147 GMT).
Fuglesang, 49, has received training from both NASA and the European Space Agency, but has waited for more than a decade for his first space flight, and the mission to the International Space Station has been followed closely by politicians and royalty alike.