Rikard Siljeströmer

Rikard Siljeströmer

Meet Rikard Siljeströmer, who works with safety at Esrange Space Center and enjoys the many opportunities the area offers.


Tell us about your role. How does it relate to the space industry as a whole?

I am responsible for maintaining safety at one of Esrange’s rocket engine testing sites, named Vertical Test Stand 1 (VTS 1). I am responsible for the safety of that site, which means coordinating safety operations together with our customers.

I have two roles, as a Ground Safety Engineer and a Site Safety Manager. My job thus means everything from sitting in the control room during exciting rocket testing to designing and reviewing ground safety equipment for our test site to overseeing safety and testing. My team and I help our customers to develop and test their rocket engines and stage designs. The aim is to assist them in developing one of the first European mainland-built rockets capable of reaching orbit.


What is your relationship to space?

I have always been deeply interested in space, especially on the more theoretical side. My father made me watch space documentaries at a very early age, sparking my interest in astronomy and cosmology. This led me to pursue stargazing from an early age. In my youth, I used to spend most of my time with a friend to head out and photograph the night sky.
A few years later I attended the space association named VARF (Västmanland Space and Astronomy Association) near the Swedish town of Västerås. We spent many years photographing supernovas and other galaxies. After I started to work at Esrange I have been in contact with VARF, discussing how to introduce young people to how it is to work at a space center in Sweden. I plan to use the local observatory in Kiruna for this purpose.

When choosing my future career path, I first wanted to work with robotics and AI. However, I quickly realized I wanted to pursue a space career. I ended up specializing in space engineering and satellite propulsion, which led me to an amazing opportunity to do a thesis at the satellite developer OHB Sweden and a job at SSC.


How is it to work at Esrange and live in Kiruna?

Kiruna and Esrange are very far away from the more populated areas of Sweden. I live at a 45-minute drive from Nikkaloukta and Kebnekaise mountains. There are hundreds of hiking trails to explore. It almost feels like I am living in a completely different country. Coming from a town near the Stockholm region, being used to concrete walls and lots of people everywhere, the solitude of Norrland is mesmerizing.

I am not the biggest winter enthusiast in terms of hobbies, but I really love being outdoors during the warmer part of the year. Kiruna and nearby mountains offer amazing hiking and off-road mountain bike activities, which I would like to explore even more in the future. There are not many workplaces in Sweden in which you can just walk outside after work and enjoy some fishing or biking, or go to one of the company cabins for the weekend.


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