SSC’s longtime employee Stig-Ove Silverlind, based at Esrange, has been awarded the Thulin Medal in silver. With his long experience and expertise, he has, among other projects, kept the Odin satellite in operation since February 2001 despite operational disruptions and challenges.
The Thulin Medal is the most prestigious award in the aerospace industry and is awarded by the Swedish Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics. How did it happen and how does it feel?
It was truly surprising … my wife’s phone rang last week but she thought it was a telemarketer and did not answer! Then we got an SMS which explained and I couldn’t believe it was true. I of course knew about the award since before and that Sven Grahn also received it in the early 1990s… But, yes, it feels huge. I managed to get a ticket to Stockholm with very short notice to receive the prize at KTH (Royal Institute of Technology).
What do you think is the key ingredient to successful satellite management?
What has made these projects work so well is that we have been a small, cohesive team where everyone has participated. I have been working with Odin since the very first test and I know this satellite. The key is to involve people early and get committed employees to stay. I don’t think this would have been so successful if team members were constantly replaced. That is the same experience from other projects such as Freja.
Looking back on your long career, what has been most memorable?
Odin and Tele-X are two, of course. But it is probably Freja and its start-up that I often think about. We did not write many governing documents except the most necessary ones. For example, no user manual was ever produced, but we involved people at a very early stage and brainstormed solutions together. There were many talented people in the project, Bengt Holmqvist, for example. I would say that all satellites are very unique with their respective unique solutions and requirements specifications, but once you have reached a working concept, things normally go smooth.
Is the space industry as exciting today as it was when you started in 1988?
It just gets more and more exciting and that is what drives the research. We will never get “finished” with space research.
Congratulations to Stig-Ove from all colleagues!