🇸🇪 Rymdforum – a success

March 13, 2023

Press release from Luleå Technical University

Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor at Luleå University of Technology, welcomes the participants.

After many hours of interesting and inspirational presentations, the Rymdforum conference at Kiruna reaches its destination. We at Luleå University of Technology are happy and proud to have had the opportunity to contribute to partnerships, Sweden’s role in space and everything the conference has resulted in.

With a record number of participants and two very successful days of enthralling discussions about everything space related, the Rymdforum conference comes to an end. The conference was launched with a welcome speech from Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor at Luleå University of Technology.

– The strength of Rymdforum is that it brings together actors from education, research, innovation, and business. This is of outmost importance since the orientation of space activities increasingly have expanded from the exploration of outer space to also include the development and use of space services on Earth. This expansion is also visible in the number of research and business areas that today focus on, and is a part of, the space ecosystem: everything from space systems and atmospheric science to AI, material science, and heath. Luleå Technical University is an important space university both nationally and internationally, Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn says.

National defence

Ella Carlsson, Chief of Space at the Swedish Airforce, talked about how important the space domain is for national defence, both during peacetime and wartime. By using images based on satellites we can help firefighters, the police force as well as take military actions and decisions which could save lives. She also presented that they are looking into making it possible for the JAS-Gripen to launch something into space. Even so, she concluded her presentation by stating that the most important question for Sweden’s future in space and the space force is the personnel.

There are threats from space, not necessarily aliens which we have seen from movies but rather the huge flying asteroid-kinds of threats. On that topic Juha-Pekka Luntama, from the European Space Agency (ESA), took the stage and talked about the Space Safety Programme. It is ESA:s task in this programme to develop technology which can detect and mitigate collisions which could lead to catastrophic consequences.

One of the challenges, he said, is to monitor the night sky to detect the asteroids. To solve this they are building a telescope with multiple telescopes inside of it to get a better picture. This enables complete coverage of the night sky every night which would increase the chances of finding asteroids on a collision course.

Mikael Granvik, Luleå University of Technology (LTU)/University of Helsinki, presented something similar and asked the question “What do we do when we have an asteroid on the collision course?”
He talked about the DART-project (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) and showed videos of how their space craft got hit by the asteroid Dimorphos and successfully changed its orbital period.

Inspiration, goals and Mars

Nils van der Poel, Olympic and World Champion in speed skating, guested Rymdforum and gave an inspiring speech about his journey and how he motivated himself to pursue a goal which was not necessarily that concrete.

One goal that is very clear is Sandra Siljeström’s (RISE) goal of bringing back about 30 tubes of rock and regolith samples from Mars to Earth by 2033. She touched on a very familiar and well-known question “Has there ever been life on Mars?” She also talked about the importance of acquiring these samples, not only for experimentation and preparing for humans on Mars, perhaps most importantly it will inspire the next generation.

Where space happens

There were also a handful of successful and ambitious start-ups that had the chance to present their journey and form partnerships and contacts during the mingling. René Laufer, Professor and Head of Subject at Luleå University of Technology as well as Organising Committee for Rymdforum was very satisfied about the turnout.

— It is very fun and important that we could host Rymdforum here, in Kiruna. This is where space happens in Sweden, and considering the amount of participants I think it shows how important this location is for the space industry, René Laufer says and continues.

– Rymdforum is a place where old friends meet and new friendships are formed, I hope the next conference will be as successful as this one.

Originally published on 9 March.

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