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May 2018 Vol 89:04 $5.95

Sweden Reaching for the Stars in Space

04 2018

Swedish Space Exploration Astronaut Buzz Aldrin New Nordic Museum

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Company File

A Player of Consequence in Space Interviewed by Peter Berlin

OHB Sweden – formerly the Satellite Division of Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) – is one of Sweden’s foremost developer of advanced spacecraft technology. Swedish Press interviewed the company’s Chief Technical Officer, Peter Rathsman, to hear his take on Sweden’s role in the spacecraft construction business.


began my career with SSC in 1983. At that time I was hired to be part of the customer team that procured the large Tele-X geostationary telecommunications satellite from Aérospatiale in France. Tele-X was a joint Nordic political and technological venture intended to establish a hi-tech space industry and encourage cooperation among the Nordic countries. My role was to oversee the development of the satellite structure – i.e. the “hull”, if you will – and also the thermal control of the satellite.

Tele-X proved to be a great success. Aérospatiale (nowadays called Thales) was the prime contractor, and Saab Space (nowadays called Ruag Sweden) was the co-prime, the idea being that Aérospatiale would train Saab Space in how to build equipment for satellites. Later I became involved in the development of our first Swedish national satellite program called Freja, which was built between 1987 and 1992. It was launched in 1992 from a site in the Gobi Desert in China. We then proceeded to build our second domestic satellite called Odin which is still working today after 17 years in orbit. It is a highly advanced spacecraft equipped with a 1-metre telescope which points with extreme precision at interstellar clouds in order to investigate how stars are formed. In between measurements in outer space it also looks at the Earth’s atmosphere in search of trace elements that contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer. Because our Swedish smallsatellite missions were so successful, ESA awarded SSC a contract to build Europe’s first lunar space probe called Smart-1. It employed a new kind of electric propulsion to take the probe from the Earth

to the Moon. One could say that it was Sweden’s and my personal first mini-Apollo project! The probe was launched in 2001 and arrived on the lunar surface in 2004. Afterwards we built a pair of satellites called Prisma which were launched in 2010 to practice formation-flying in space, and also to evaluate various methods of performing so-called rendezvous and docking manoeuvres. 2011 was an important milestone for our Satellite Division at SSC in that we were sold to OHB in Germany, Europe’s third largest producer of satellites. Hence we became known as OHB Sweden. Our activities were now even more focussed than ever on spacecraft development, which suited us very well. Since that take-over we have delivered subsystems to OHB for their medium-sized communications satellites. We are currently working on a project called Electra, for which we are in charge of the pointing and propulsion subsystems. The end customer of Electra is SES, the worlds largest operator of communications satellites located in Luxemburg. I find this evolution of our company most satisfying, since it represents commercial continuity of our earlier hard-earned scientific and technological successes.

A pair of satellites called Prisma was launched in 2010. Photo: OHB Sweden

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Swedish Press | May 2018 10


“Buzz Aldrin, A Space Visionary..." Buzz Aldrin, a Space Pioneer with Swedish Roots By Stephen Anderson


evered as the second man to land on the surface of the Moon, Buzz Aldrin has yet to set foot in the museum where his feats are recognized in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin at the veteran parade in New York on November 11, 2010. Photo: Mikhail Kusayev

Born in 1930 in New Jersey of mixed Swedish ancestry, Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. was called “Buzzer” by a sister who couldn’t pronounce “brother.” Shortened to “Buzz,” the nickname stuck and Buzz Aldrin became his legal name in 1988. A 1951 honors graduate of West Point, he received an Air Force commission and was a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War. Subsequently earning a doctorate in astronautics from M.I.T., he was assigned to the Air Force Systems Division. In 1963, Aldrin was selected for the third group of NASA astronauts and was promoted to a Gemini 9 back-up crew. He became a pilot on Gemini 12, setting a record for

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the moon near the leg of the lunar module Eagle during the Apollo 11 mission. Mission commander Neil Armstrong took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. Image Credit: NASA

extra-vehicular activity and proving that astronauts could work outside their spacecraft. On July 20, 1969, Aldrin followed Neil Armstrong as the first astronauts who left their lunar landing vehicle and walked on the Moon. A Freemason and Presbyterian church elder, Aldrin gave himself communion and claimed Masonic territorial jurisdiction over the Moon for the Grand Lodge of Texas. In October 2013, the Swedish American Museum in Chicago opened a new educational exhibit, “Buzz Aldrin, a Space Visionary,” in its children’s gallery. A grant from the Swedish Council of America helped make it a reality seven days each week. Here a youngster can “blast off” on a personal space odyssey. Once a month, a “Moon Monday” program is provided with help from a mobile education cart equipped with lunar technology. When Aldrin left NASA, he was assigned commandant of the Air

Force Test Pilot School at the Edwards Air Force Base in California. He retired from active duty in March 1972 but continued to serve in managerial roles. In retirement, he continues to promote space exploration. In 1993, he produced a computer strategy game called “Buzz Aldrin’s Race into Space.” In 1995, he appeared in the film, “America: A Call to Greatness,” with Charlton Heston. In 2009, the 40th anniversary of the Moon landing, he participated in a rap video that helped support his foundation, ShareSpace. Aldrin has written four books: “Return to Earth” (1973), “Men from Earth” (1989), “Magnificent Desolation” (2009), and “Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration” (2010).He is coauthor of two science fiction novels: “Encounter with Tiber” (1996) and “The Return” (2000). In addition to numerous military decorations and other awards, Aldrin has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Congressional Gold Medal, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A crater on the Moon and an asteroid are named in his honor.

Astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, prime crew pilot of the Gemini XII spaceflight, undergoes evaluation procedures with the Astronaut Maneuvering Unit in the 30-foot altitude chamber at McDonnell Aircraft. Image Credit: NASA

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Swedish Press | May 2018 11

Swedish Space Exploration Then and Now By Peter Berlin

A Photo: Konstantin Shaklein

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s an internationally recognized leader in cutting-edge technology, Sweden was bound to embark on space exploration sooner or later. In 1961 the first sounding rockets were launched from Swedish Lapland to investigate the nature of noctilucent clouds – those high-altitude clouds that look like giant flying saucers against the dark sky after sunset. A sounding rocket goes straight up into space before falling back to Earth, as opposed to a launch vehicle that sends satellites into orbit and space probes into interplanetary trajectories. Later the noctilucent research was widened to include the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). The interest in exploring the Northern Lights was motivated by scientific curiosity and the wish to understand why the phenomenon causes radio interference. Since those early days, Sweden has launched a variety of space missions, sometimes alone but mostly as a member of the European Space Agency (ESA), the European equivalent of NASA. Through ESA, member states are able to pool their industrial and

financial resources in order to pursue space ventures that would otherwise be far too costly for any one participating nation. One of the most interesting ESA space missions was called Smart-1, with a Swedish company serving as the Prime Contractor. The Smart-1 spacecraft used cutting-edge electric propulsion to work its way to the moon over a period of 3 years. ESA operates on the principle of “industrial return”, a concept which ensures that most of a member state’s financial contribution to a given space program is returned in the form of R&D contracts placed with industry in that country. This has the advantage that undertaking space missions also serves to further the competitiveness of European industry in the global marketplace.

Above: Smart-1 en route for the moon. Graphic: ESA | Left: A sounding rocket lifts off from Esrange. Photo: DLR Picture

Over the years, Swedish industry has benefitted hugely from domestic as well as ESA-driven space activities. Notable examples are: • RUAG Space which is one of the world’s foremost builders of computers onboard satellites and rockets, i.e. the “brains” that enable spacecraft to function more or less autonomously. • OHB Sweden which provides hi-tech spacecraft electronics and specializes in building entire small satellites. • GKN Aerospace which manufactures key parts of the Ariane rocket engines. • Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) which operates a network of satellite ground stations and control centres to monitor and guide satellites by remote control. SSC is also in charge of launching high-altitude balloons and sounding rockets from its Esrange launch site for Swedish and international customers.

GKN Aerospace sandwich nozzle for Ariane 6. Photo courtesy of DLR

While OHB Sweden was still part of SSC, the company oversaw the construction and launch of several satellites. The first of these was called Viking, launched in 1986 to study the processes leading up to the appearance of the Northern Lights. The follow-on satellite Freja had similar goals and carried instruments provided by Swedish, German, Canadian and U.S. research institutes. The Northern Lights were also the focus of Astrid 1 and Astrid 2. Tele-X was a joint Nordic venture in satellite telecommunications from geostationary orbit, and Smart-1

was the mission to the Moon mentioned earlier. Odin is still alive and well in orbit; it combines two scientific disciplines on a single spacecraft, the first for studying star formation (astronomy) and the second for monitoring the depletion of the ozone layer in the Earth’s atmosphere (aeronomy). Lastly, Prisma is a pair of experimental satellites that has successfully demonstrated the technology needed for formation flying and docking in space. Space is an important subject at many Swedish educational institutions. For example, the Kiruna-based Rymdgymnasiet introduces high school students to the fundamentals of space science and technology. The Space Department of the Luleå University of Technology is also in Kiruna. Here, students from many nations come together to work towards their Master’s degrees and Doctorates in a variety of space-related subjects. The students take advantage of the nearby state-run Institute of Space Physics (IRF) and the above-mentioned SSC to launch experiments, complete their internships and work on their graduate theses. Some of the university students in Kiruna pursue their studies within the framework of state-sponsored programs that allow them to move every year between universities in different countries, all the while receiving full credits towards their degrees. Upon graduation, they are not only knowledgeable in their chosen space subjects, but they are also multilingual and multi-cultural – a superb prerequisite for making a career in one of the most cosmopolitan professions around. Swedish ambitions in space go further than designing satellites and launching sounding rockets. In the October 2013 issue of Swedish Press we interviewed Karin Nilsdotter, CEO of Spaceport Sweden who reported on plans to take tourists into space from Esrange. Another project has been

proposed to launch satellites directly into near-polar orbits, from where they can perform a variety of missions aimed at monitoring the health of our planet. On the subject of saving our planet, it is worth remembering that spacecraft, despite their exorbitant cost, perform essential services that we now take for granted. The health of agriculture, forests, the oceans and the atmosphere is studied from space using cameras and radars. Modern-day weather forecasts owe most of their accuracy to meteorological satellites. Satellite navigation and other space systems allow us to know where we are on Earth down to 1-metre accuracy using inexpensive GPS receivers. TV programs from anywhere in the world may be enjoyed thanks to communication satellites, and our homeland security is supported by intelligencegathering spacecraft. And, of course, our insatiable curiosity about the Universe and our planet’s origins is nourished by spectacular images captured by scientific spacecraft travelling – and sometimes touching down – in interplanetary space.

Astronaut Christer Fuglesang in his mission’s final spacewalk outside the International Space Station in 2009. Image © NASA/ESA

For Sweden, the focus has so far been on science, telecommunications and technology development. That said, a Swedish astronaut, Christer Fuglesang, has twice flown on the Space Shuttle to visit the International Space Station. As for sending humans to Mars, the Swedes have wisely adopted a wait-and-see stance.

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Swedish Press | May 2018 13

[Lifestyle] Museum The Nordic Museum in Seattle Re-Opens with Great Fanfare


he Nordic Museum is partnering with more than a dozen local and international organizations to turn the entire month of May 2018 into a “Nordic Seattle” celebration of Nordic arts, culture and innovation. With more than 20 events ranging from experimental rock to classical music, film, theater, literature, technology and business, the Nordic Seattle series will extend from April 17 through June 1, at venues all across Seattle. The Nordic Seattle series is designed to highlight and celebrate the May 5th grand opening of the Nordic Museum in its stunning new home on Market Street in the heart of the working waterfront of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. The Museum’s mission is to share Nordic culture with people of all ages and backgrounds by exhibiting art and objects, preserving collections, providing educational and cultural

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Swedish Press | May 2018 20

experiences and serving as a community gathering place. The new museum was designed by Seattle’s Mithun architects in collaboration with renowned Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa, featuring a soaring central fjord atrium with angular walls that narrow as visitors go deeper into the museum. The core exhibition, tracing 12,000 years of Nordic and Nordic-American history, was designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the firm that helped create the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Newseum, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. “As we open our new museum, we want to reach out to the entire community with programs that demonstrate our expanded mission and showcase the incredible diversity of arts, culture and innovation that define the Nordic region today,” said Eric Nelson, CEO of the Nordic Museum. “We’re excited to be partnering with so many organizations across Seattle and beyond, to turn Seattle into a Nordic city for the month of May.”

“While 1 out of every 8 people in Washington state self-identify as having Nordic ancestry, we want our new museum to be a place for everyone,” Nelson said. “The new Museum will be a window into the past, present and future of the Nordic and Nordic-American experience and ideas.” The Nordic Seattle series is made possible through partnership with organizations across Seattle and beyond. Key partners include radio station KEXP, Seattle Symphony, Seattle International Film Festival, Town Hall Seattle, Northwest Film Forum, Seattle Public Library, University of Washington, World Affairs Council, Elliott Bay Book Company, Rainier Arts Center, and many others. Nordic Seattle is also supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic Culture Fund, and the embassies of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. A full schedule and description of the events is available at www., along with information on how to buy tickets for individual events.

[Lifestyle] Culture Exhibits and Events By Anna Larsson

Gotland Open Studios Gotland Open Studios (Öppna Ateljéer Gotland) is one of Sweden’s largest open studio events with 110 artists participating this year. It takes place from May 10 to May 13. During a self-guided tour, the public is invited into the studios of Gotlandbased artists, craftspeople and designers across the island. In the weeks leading up to the event, the Gotland Art Museum – a museum in Visby dedicated to local arts and crafts from the early 1800s to the present – exhibits one piece per artist from April 28 to May 13. One of the participating artists is Ninni Westerman. She both paints in watercolors and uses her watercolor techniques as inspiration for fiber art paintings in felted wool. For her wool paintings she uses wool that she dyes herself from local sheep. Another participant is ceramic artist Anki Wolter, who will be showing both tableware and sculptures, such as her trademark “planter sculptures.” For more information, see www.,, and Vikings at the Mystic Seaport Museum Yet another Viking exhibit has made it across the ocean to the United States. This time, an exhibit named “The Vikings Begin: Treasures from Uppsala University, Sweden”

Watercolor “Stora Karlsö” by Ninni Westerman. © Ninni Westerman

is opening at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. On display will be artifacts from as early as the seventh century, featuring among other things a helmet and ceremonial objects. On display May 19 – September 30. For more information, see www. Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and Astrid Lindgren’s Näs The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was first presented in 2003 in honor of children’s book author Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002),

creator of Pippi Longstocking and many other beloved characters. At SEK five million (over $600,000) it is the world’s biggest international award for children’s and young adult literature. The 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award went to American author Jacqueline Woodson, author of more than thirty books. She writes primarily for teens but also for children and adults and was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in the United States in January. For those of us who would like to know more about Astrid Lindgren’s work as well as her life, a visit to Astrid Lindgren’s Näs in Vimmerby may be just the thing. Her childhood home and surrounding gardens are open to the public. Tours of the home are given daily May 10 – October 7, and the property including exhibits is generally open late March through mid-December. For more information, see

Felted wool “Gotland Beach Hut” by Ninni Westerman. © Ninni Westerman

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Swedish Press | May 2018 21

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Swedish Press Sample May 2018 Vol 89:4  

Swedish Press is the world’s leading magazine on all good things Swedish. An authority on design, business, culture and travel since 1929, S...

Swedish Press Sample May 2018 Vol 89:4  

Swedish Press is the world’s leading magazine on all good things Swedish. An authority on design, business, culture and travel since 1929, S...