“Working at Esrange and living in Kiruna
– an adventure I didn’t want to miss.”
Simon Westerlund is one of many employees at SSC who chose to move a long way for a job at Esrange and a life in Kiruna. Today, he has worked for six years at the base and appreciates the balance between work life and leisure activities with plenty of skiing, hiking, snowboarding and sports flying at the Kiruna Flying Club.
What made you move to Kiruna ?
At first, I hadn’t thought of moving to Kiruna. I studied space technology at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and friends and acquaintances asked me about this since Esrange was in Kiruna. I replied, “no, I’m not going to move there”. It just felt too dark and cold. A little while later I saw a position at Esrange that looked so interesting that I had to apply. I then started to think about my view of Norrland and realized that it would be fun to give it a chance. After that, I also applied for a job in Svalbard and in comparison, Kiruna is centrally located.
So, the job was interesting enough for you to move?
Yes, I saw the ad about a job at the Esrange rocket and balloon division and thought it would suit me perfectly. I realized that working at Esrange and living in Kiruna would be an adventure and I didn’t want to miss that opportunity.
What does a typical workday look like?
Today I am heading the group that works with safety for testing new rocket engines as well as launches of satellites, which will start soon. There is a lot of work with safety documentation as safety is a high priority for us. We of course have many meetings, but a perfect workday for me is when I combine it with attending a rocket engine test, which we perform almost weekly.
Do you have any tips for newcomers to Kiruna?
Usually, when moving to a new place, it is easier to get to know others who also recently moved there. But you can, for example, go to a pub and make contacts, that’s what many people do. I think it is good to join a community, which requires some engagement. I have made many contacts through the flight club and a church I visit. And, for example, my wife and I usually organize an Advent Coffee before Christmas at our place. We leave an invitation in the neighborhood mailboxes. If you want to get to know people, it takes a little effort.