The thesis work was performed at the Institute of Meteorology of the University of Stockholm where I had worked while studying off and on since 1962. The first job I did for the Institute was to work as a rocket assembly technician during the first sounding rocket launchings from Kronogård in Northern Sweden during the summers of 1962, 1963 and 1964. This was my first "hands-on" contact with professional space technology. I obtained this work because I was a junior member of the Swedish Interplanetary Society (nowadays: The Swedish Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics ).
While studying for the M.Sc. I worked in the Institute’s Atmospheric Physics Group led by professor Georg Witt. My task during the period 1965-68 was photogrammetric studies of noctilucent clouds . This work consisted of organising and leading the summer field operations of the camera stations and of data reduction between campaigns. The observations solidly confirmed earlier observations of the altitude of the noctilucent cloud layer to be 82-84 km. A new method to determine the thickness of the cloud layer (» 1 km) was also developed.
In between two periods of military training I worked on analysing data from rocket-borne solar irradiance photometers launched from Esrange in March 1970. I developed an inversion method to find the ozone altitude number density profile in the stratosphere and mesosphere from data on solar irradiance in several wavelength bands during the ascent of the rocket. After that I modified the basic photometer design to fly on a NASA rocket from Kourou in March 1974. During this flight a comparison between the optical method and the chemiluminiscent method to determine mesospheric ozone. Another modified photometer design flew on two sounding rockets (S-16) in the Swedish national programme in March 1975.
While at the Institute of Meteorology I studied meteorology and obtained sixty credits. This enabled me to teach courses in atmospheric physics to students who were studying to be science teachers at "high school level".
In August 1975 I joined the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) in Solna. In those days SSC was a small organisation and hired very few engineers every year. Because of this, as a new employee I worked on many diverse projects - and this was also a policy of Fredrik Engström - the Managing Director. My CV certainly reflects that I was assigned to most of major projects in the 70’s and 80’s. The first jobs I had was to manage the flight test of the S-19 sounding rocket guidance system at NASA’s Wallops Island launch site. Directly after that I became involved in two projects simultaneously: The development of Sweden’s first microgravity experiment that was launched as part of the German TEXUS rocket and studies of direct-broadcasting TV satellites.
I was project manager of the microgravity project, but this involved design and test work in the laboratory, because the permanent project staff only consisted of two persons. We developed a 40 kg experiment module with ten mirror furnaces and two gradient furnaces for studying solidification of metal alloys. The first launch of the experiment module took place in December 1977. I worked on the microgravity program until 1980 when a separate department (which still exists within Space Systems Division, of which I was the General Manager during the period 1993-2001) was set up to develop such equipment.
A further illustration of the diversity of tasks that I was assigned to during the 70’s is that I designed a hydrological data collection station for the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. The station was placed in a mountainous area in the North. It relayed its data via the CNES/NASA Argos satellite data system.
The TV satellite studies went on almost continuously from early 1976 until the end of 1979. The technical work was performed by three persons; Lars Anderson, Lars Backlund and myself. Mr Anderson took responsibility for the satellite platform and launch vehicle matters, Lars Backlund the ground segment, especially the direct-to-home receiving equipment. My task was to study the communications payload of the satellite, the total system reliability and link budgets. We submitted a massive study report in early 1977 and this study was regarded by many as technically very optimistic, while now, twenty years later, it appears almost timid in its technical projections. The study was supported by satellite contractors in Europe and the USA and this was my first real exposure to the space industry. All sorts of political events surrounded this study activity, initially preventing the proposed Nordic satellite broadcasting system from being developed.
While these studies were being processed by the political machinery, Swedish space activities got a big boost. The reason was the restructuring of Swedish industry that took place at the end of the 70’s. Large enterprises, like the shipbuilding industry, just collapsed and other branches like the mining and steel industry were changed profoundly. The government was very disturbed and American consultants recommended that Sweden promote its high-tech sector, such as space technology. SSC developed a plan for an upgraded space effort and proposed that an experimental TV broadcasting satellite be developed with a large Swedish industrial participation. This became the Tele-X project (see below). We also proposed that a scientific satellite be developed by Swedish industry as a "training project". The details about this interesting period of Swedish space activities can be found in a history of SSC’s first ten years that I wrote (with C-G Borg) in 1982.
This was the Viking satellite project and I worked on this project from its very beginning in 1978 (when professor Bengt Hultqvist suggested a "sounding rocket satellite" to be launched on a Russian rocket) until 1983 when I took on a major role in the Tele-X project. During this period I made basic system engineering studies of the satellite and its mission, wrote the system requirements specification in the development contract with Saab and Boeing - the contractors for Viking. The five-year assignment to the Viking project involved many trips to Boeing in Seattle and CNES in Toulouse. I was the Technical Manager of the project and the Deputy to the project manager Mr Per Zetterquist. In the Viking project we learned the elements of the low-cost satellite development philosophy that I later had the opportunity of applying in the Freja and Astrid projects.
In March 1980, the Tele-X project was initiated and the first system specification was written. In parallel with the work on Viking, I worked on the system design and specifications for the definition study of Tele-X. I also contributed major parts of the system requirements specification and Statement Of Work in the final development contract for the Tele-X satellite that was signed in July 1983. In late 1983 I was given overall responsibility for the development of the Tele-X space segment, i.e. the satellite, the launch vehicle and the satellite control facility at Esrange. The control facility was procured from many sources by competitive bidding. I was manager for SSC’s effort to integrate these subsystems (antennas, baseband equipment, computers, control software…) into a system that is still in operation. When all these subsystems were under contract and when satellite development had passed some critical milestones the project entered an "administrative" phase and I asked for a transfer to other activities.
Already in 1984 I had been promoted to head a newly created department, the Advanced Space Systems Department, a small group of people looking at new concepts for space systems, such as the store-and-forward communications satellite system Mailstar. This project was carried out within a company called Mailstar AB formed by the investment branch of the telecommunications agency (TeleInvest), Saab Space, SSC and Ericsson. My department led the system studies through phase B (system definition) when firm, fixed prices were obtained for all elements of the system. Saab and Ericsson, the main shareholders in Mailstar were the sole-source bidders for the satellite and communications system. However, we ran a competitive bidding for launching these satellites, and the Chinese Long March 2C rocket won the bidding. Mailstar was designed to serve the business communications needs of the far-flung branches of Swedish industry all over the world. Early in 1987 the cost of turned out to be about 900 MSEK in today’s economic conditions. This high cost killed the project, despite SSC’s attempt to project a lower "should-cost" estimate.
After this setback, myself and Mr Peter Rathsman, at the initiative of SSC’s president Mr Lennart Lübeck, started to work on a combined Mailstar/Science mission that we called Freja. This mission was based on the use of the Chinese proposal for launching Mailstar on the Long March 2C. This work started in August 1987 and very soon the Mailstar mission was dropped because the telecommunications agency was not willing to support it financially. However, in close co-operation with the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and the Max-Planck Institut für extraterrestrische Physik the Freja magnetospheric mission was defined and in 1989 won sufficient financial support from the Swedish National Space Board and the German Ministry for Science and Technology. So, during the years 1987-1992 I was project manager of Freja, developing SSC’s streamlined method of low-cost satellite development. The small staff of the Freja project made it necessary for me to also do technical work in the project. I developed the "Freja Operations Support Software", a software package that was used for mission planning and attitude control. The core of this software was orbital mechanics and the code grew to about 40,000 lines of Pascal code.
After the launch of Freja and the completion of some other projects, SSC was reorganised and divided into five divisions instead of two. My own department, the "System Design Department" and the "Space Utilisation Department" were merged and I became the general manager of the new division named the "Science Systems Division" (later renamed the Space Systems Division). This division is a group of eighty people designing sounding rocket payloads and vehicles, microgravity experiments, balloon gondolas, small satellites. I was very much involved in conceiving the satellite projects Odin, Astrid-1 and Astrid-2, but left the project management to younger engineers. As the general manager of what was by then called the Space Systems Division I was also heavily involved in the proposal to ESA for the SMART-1 lunar probe (Peter Rathsman was the project manager). In 2011 the division was taken over by the German company OHB and is now called OHB-Sweden and is located in Kista, a suburb of Stockholm.
In 2001 I was promoted to the top management of SSC, taking up the post of Vice President of Engineering & Corporate Communications. In 2005 the board of directors of SSC gave me the title Senior Vice President, Engineering. On 31 March 2006 I retired from SSC after 31 years of service. The company had given its top managers the option of leaving at 60 with pension and I accepted the offer. However, I served as Senior Adviser to the Swedish Space Corporation until 2011, having retired the full-time job at SSC. I kept doing smaller jobs for SSC until 2014. Nowadays I work as the project manager for the MIST student satellite project at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockolm.
I have received the following professional and other honours:
With my wife Inger Albrektsson at the Academy of
Engineering Sciences award ceremony in 2001.
Examples of earlier teaching experience
During the summers of 1994 and 1995 I taught at the International Space University summer sessions in Barcelona and Stockholm, respectively. I spent about a weak at ISU94 lecturing on low-cost space mission philosophy to a design project working on new interplanetary space missions. In 1995 I spent the whole summer as co-chair (with Dr. Wendell Mendell, NASA Johnson Space Centre) of the "Vision 2020" Design Project. The objective of this design project was for the students to describe and plan a desirable (from the students’ point of view) future for space activities. A strategic planning technique called "visioning" was used to derive a picture of desired scenarios for space development. It was a very unusual exercise and for me it involved an intensive interaction with a multinational and multidisciplinary group of about sixty young professionals.
I have also had more conventional teaching experience. I gave a full-day orientation course in space technology for Air Force officer students at the Military Academy in Stockholm. And for several years I gave three lectures in the yearly Space Technology Course at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. Three two-hour lectures cover "Traffic & Trends in Space", Manned Space Systems, Communications Satellite Systems.
I have taught courses on management of space systems development and the history of Human Spaceflight to students at the Institute of Space Sciences in Kiruna, Sweden.
Other space activities
It may also be relevant to mention that I have contributed several long articles on space technology subjects to the newly-finished Swedish National Encyclopaedia and I was one of a handful of translators into Swedish of the "Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Space Technology" (K. Gatland ed.) published in English in 1981 by Salamander books and in Swedish by Legenda in 1985.
In early June 2006 I attended the symposium on Chinese/Soviet space history organised by the British Interplanetary Society. I showed video clips from the launch of the Swedish Freja satellite from Jiuquan satellite launch Center in the Gobi desert back in 1992.
An "extra-curricular" activity in the space field is my more than thirty-year dedication to radio tracking of satellites. I have used radio receivers of varying degrees of sophistication to listen to and try to interpret radio signals from satellites, particularly Russian satellites. In this activity I have been part of a loosely-knit group of people around the world called "the Kettering Group" started in 1960 by Geoff Perry, the senior science master at the Kettering Grammar School (Kettering is a small town in the Midlands, U.K). Listening to radio signals turned out to be an addictive hobby. This is what I wrote for a book (Cytringanian Farewell, Kettering Boys’ School 1577-1993, ISBN 0 9526782 0 9) commemorating the history of the school:
"Why is it so addicting to track satellites launched by a secretive society? I think the attraction lies in the fact that you get a feeling of participating in great events while being able to use scientific method to deduce the characteristics of the satellites that we track and future twists and turns in the Soviet (nowadays a much less secretive Russian) space program. Geoff [Perry] was (and still is) very good at making it fun to use deductive logic and basic physics and math. I also think that Geoff and Derek [Derek Slater, another teacher] took a certain pride (which I share) in doing all these things with relatively simple means. Our radios and computing method were almost always at "the trailing edge of technology", but I think Geoff regarded this a yet another pedagogical advantage. The use of simple methods puts emphasis on the deductive and "basic physics" part of it all."
Other pieces of infomation
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