Elina Arvidsson

Elina Arvidsson

Elina Arvidsson, Mission Manager in the Orbital Launch and Rocket Test (OLRT) team at Esrange Space Center, is closing in on her lifetime dream of witnessing a satellite launch at first-hand. And it doesn’t hurt to be a key person in making it reality. 

Hopefully, it has escaped no one that SSC has signed a collaborative agreement with South Korean rocket company Perigee Aerospace, with the ambition to launch satellites from Esrange Space Center starting in 2025.

To Mission Manager Elina Arvidsson, this means that the planning process is at full speed:

“I am responsible for gathering insights and to learn how established private rocket companies prepare for their first satellite launches. I coordinate the satellite customers, the rocket manufacturers, and the infrastructure at Esrange – from the moment a satellite owner wants to become a customer until their satellite is placed in orbit. It’s very complex, there are so many details that must be worked out,” Elina says.

“I thought everything about space was cool but didn’t realize at the time that it was possible to have space as a profession. It felt more like a hobby. Today I know that society cannot function without space. And being able to work with it every day is more fun and even better than I could have imagined”.

Charlotta Sund, Marcus Wandt and Elina Arvidsson
Elina meeting Swedish astronaut Marcus Wandt on his visit to Kiruna. SSC CEO Charlotta Sund to the left.

Elina emphasizes the importance of the upcoming satellite launches for the European and international space market, but also for society in general. Not least the possibility of being able to launch satellites at short notice.

“Satellites are a crucial component for critical societal functions, enabling us to continue to develop our connected society in a sustainable and secure way. For me, a good example is an application developed by the Swedish Forestry Agency, that uses satellite images to show where bark beetles attack. When I, in time, will take over our family’s farm in Tibro in southern Sweden, this service will be very useful. However, for such tools to function, we depend on capability to quickly replace and put new satellites into orbits. So, our work at SSC is very important”.

One might wonder, how did Elina end up working at Esrange?

“I heard about something called Tekniksprånget, which gives the opportunity to test working as a space engineer after high school. It is a paid internship over four months. I applied and ended up at Esrange. It was four life-changing months. A new city, far from home, a whole new world. Today I am so grateful that I did it!”

Her new colleagues talked a lot about rockets, outdoor activities and hunting.

“I felt like I hit the jackpot, all my interests and hobbies all in one! I grew up in a small village in the Swedish countryside, where hunting is an important part of life, says Elina and laughs.

At Esrange, she had the unique opportunity to participate in both balloon and rocket launches. And she enjoyed it enough to stay in Kiruna for eight months, awaiting university studies in Stockholm to begin. While at university, she longed to return:

“I was determined to work within the space industry. It was an important drive to fight my way through my studies. It wasn’t always easy, but I knew I had to go back to Kiruna”.

From time to time, she has been working from the SSC office in Stockholm, where part of the OLRT team is located. She is very excited about the upcoming satellite launch, and hopes to witness it live from Esrange:

“It is truly a unique experience. Imagine taking part in building something completely new, all from scratch. And to be present when the first satellite launch from mainland EU is carried out. I can already imagine sitting there in the control room and getting the confirmation that the satellite is in orbit and doing well. And the feeling of the rumble, the smoke, the fire from the rocket… I feel so incredibly lucky”.

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