The REXUS campaign training week took place at the Swedish Space Corporation’s launch facility. The launch area named Esrange is located near Sweden’s northernmost city Kiruna. Expecting freezing cold weather and snow, four team members from team SMARD headed northward from Munich to Stockholm Arlanda Airport. After a stay, lasting several hours, and final de-icing of the plane Maria (teamleader & structural design), Artur (software & outreach), Ingo (systems engineering & software), Karl (electrical design) and eighty-one other REXUS members were on their way to their final destination Kiruna Airport (KRN).
Upon reaching Esrange there was not much to do except going to sleep to be up to the mark on the next morning. Lectures began at 08:20 so getting up at quarter to eight seemed to be a good compromise between sleeping and a last minute breakfast. After several presentations concerning security and daily routine at Esrange technical lectures were given by various specialists from different fields. Meanwhile each team had to hold a twenty minute presentation with questions afterwards. The so-called Preliminary Design Review (PDR) was held by all four SMARD team members on Wednesday morning.
In the evenings there were different activities and events, some planned by the organizers (DLR, ESA, ZARM, MORABA) others came about by chance. One of the most impressive moments was the spotting of polar lights (aurora borealis) where some stunning photos were taken. Unfortunately the weather was mainly cloudy, however our patience paid off on one evening: We were able to observe some shallow polar lights and a gorgeous starlit sky.
After having heard interesting lectures on structural / mechanical design, electronics engineering, flight dynamics, research, other team’s projects, outreach and many more, on Friday it was time to visit Kiruna’s impressive Mine (LKAB). Driving in a bus 3,5km into the Kiirunavaara-Luossavaara mountain to 520 m underground was a very impressive experience.
Each one of us having grabbed a few iron ore pallets from down there we moved on to Kiruna’s Ice Hotel. It is an entire hotel plus church completely made of ice collected from the nearby river. During the day visitors can have a look at the different hotel rooms and suits or enjoy a drink in a glass made of ice in the Ice Bar. Each suit is decorated with lovingly formed ice sculptures making each room a totally individual experience.
Finally on Saturday, after a nice little final party on Friday evening, all of us headed southbound, back to our countries of origins. Maria went to Toulouse to finalize her term abroad and the rest of team SMARD flew back to Munich in pleasant anticipation to the Launch Week at Esrange in March 2015.