SpaceMaster

Stories


Maike Neuland Germany (Round 5)

After I graduated from my physics studies in Germany, I was torn between starting a PhD or a job directly and continuing my studies in a more specialized field. During the physics studies I was most motivated in the subjects of particle and astroparticle physics, cosmology and air shower experiments. And when I got the confirmation of being selected for SpaceMaster, I was so sure that this is what I want to learn and to do. The two years of SpaceMaster studies not only gave me a broad knowledge in the field of space science and technology, planetology and space physics, but also in personal skills. I did not only get to know many of my very good friends but also many professionals and splendors in the field of space research. The experience of studying and living in very special places, like Kiruna in the very North of Sweden, made this time for me unique. On the one hand having international dinners in Würzburg, seeing the northern lights in Kiruna, exploring the Pyrenees near Toulouse and finally going snowboarding in the Swiss Alps, but also on the other hand visiting ESA headquarters, the Esrange rocket launch site and getting an internship in the rocket propulsion section of DLR during the summer break made these two years a perfect time in balance between studying, learning, exploring and experiencing. Now I am doing a PhD in Bern in the Division of Space Research and Planetary Sciences, where I also did my Master Thesis. I am working on laser mass spectrometry for planetary exploration. I have a strong network of SpaceMaster friends all around the world and wherever I go to present my work at a conference around Europe, I can be sure to run into a handful of SpaceMasters!

Fernando J. Capalbo, MSc. Argentina (Round 4)

I was born and grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the end of high school I started to wonder what I really wanted to do and lots of questions came to my mind. I then decided to study nature and try to find answers to some of those questions. Among the ways humankind has for this I chose science, particularly physics. At the end of my physics degree I started to get more and more interested in space. After graduating I worked in the Argentinean Space Agency, where I was intern before. I was also a teacher at the University of Buenos Aires. I planned to pursue further education in Europe, and looked for PhD and MSc. opportunities in the space science field, with a practical approach. I was accepted for the Erasmus Mundus SpaceMaster course and scholarship. This opened me the door to get in touch with high quality European researchers and industry professionals in the Space science and technology field. But SpaceMaster also provided the opportunity for traveling around Europe, experiencing life in different countries and, most important, meeting people from different places and cultures and to share unforgettable experiences. I had classmates from all over the world I will always remember, and the opportunity to find friends among them. Nowadays I am doing a PhD in atmospheric physics, analyzing Titan's atmosphere, a position I find very interesting and enjoyable.
Although there are still things to improve in the program, SpaceMaster provided me with knowledge, work experience, a European space science and technology panorama and a useful contact network. I also experienced a multicultural environment from which I learned and which gave me a new view of the world and people in it. I am very glad I had the opportunity of going through this wonderful academic and life experience.

Pooja Mahapatra India (Round 3)

Beginning from the first semester in Würzburg, Germany, and continuing in Kiruna, Sweden, SpaceMaster has been a wonderful experience. It enabled me to channel my Electronics and Communication Engineering background towards space applications, through absorbing lectures, educative study trips and challenging project work. These spanned a wide range of subjects from space instrumentation and data processing to physics and remote sensing, in an international, multicultural and multilingual setting.
SpaceMaster immensely facilitated industry exposure. This led to an internship at a Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, where I was responsible for the design and fabrication of a picosatellite. Additionally, I spent the fourth semester of SpaceMaster working on my Master's thesis at the research centre of the European Space Agency (ESA/ESTEC) in the Netherlands, on a prototype Mars rover concept. I was always encouraged by SpaceMaster to present my work at conferences and workshops, which also gave me firsthand knowledge about advances in space research.
SpaceMaster has helped me make friends and professional contacts from all over the world, and has enabled me to spend time in, and learn about the culture of, places as exotic as Kiruna (68°N 20°E)! I will now utilise the strong fundamentals that SpaceMaster has given me to pursue a PhD programme in Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Martin Siegl Austria (Round 3)

Current Position: YGT at ESA (2010)
SpaceMaster is a Master of Space Opportunities! At the time of writing, I am located at Esrange Space Centre in Kiruna, Sweden, working with rocketeers

from all across Europe on launching two REXUS sounding rockets. Kiruna is a place well-known to me; it is the space town up North where I enjoyed my second year SpaceMaster courses; it is the place where I watched the northern lights together with friends from all around the world.
SpaceMaster offered me the opportunity to dabble in stratospheric balloons and sounding rockets, finally leading to a Young Graduate Traineeship at the European Space Agency. Spacemaster allowed me to specialise my prior education in Engineering Physics towards space. SpaceMaster gave me the chance to carry out my Master thesis in my field of interest (human spaceflight, radiation effects and detection) among leading experts at the European Space Agency.
To me, a particular strength of the SpaceMaster programme is the broad view conveyed on all matters of space. The knowledge and enthusiasm that was brought to us by the excellent SpaceMaster staff and, equally importantly, external lecturers and experts, was outstanding. My friends and I had a truly international experience – a very important asset in a time where concepts of spaceflight proliferate around the world.
With space science, space technology and project skills, SpaceMaster teaches how to master space opportunities!

Astrid Horn Germany (Round 1)

Zero-G flight Current position: PhD in Engineering at the University of Magdeburg, together with DLR Cologne and EADS Astrium (up to and including March 2010) System Engineer at EADS Astrium, Friedrichshafen (April 2010)
Previous studies: Diploma in Biology
2nd year University: Kiruna
I got a second direction of study with the SM studies, and my master thesis led to the following PhD. The combination of a scientific and an engineering background is rare and turns out to be very useful, and it definitely gave me much broader carrier options. I would only recommend this for people who are already very interested in engineering and technology, as starting with something so different in such a short time is a challenge.

Jan Hakenberg Germany (Round 2)

Orion Joint Venture

My motivation to enroll in the SpaceMaster program was to learn about the engineering of space systems together with students from all over the world. Previously, I had just finished a degree in mathematics with little focus on applicability.
I spent the second year of the program in Helsinki in order to work on electronic circuits and mobile robots. My thesis work investigated and implemented the mobility of Marsokhod, a robot that had originally been intended to navigate on Mars.
The academic highlights of the SpaceMaster course to me were to design and build a CanSat, as well as to compete in a field and service robot competition. To face these challenges in small dynamic teams was such a rewarding experience.
After graduating, I was employed by EADS Astrium to develop and maintain tools for the testing of satellites (Lisa Pathfinder, Earthcare, ...) based in Friedrichshafen and Toulouse.
I am still in touch with a lot of my fellow students and already managed to visit five of them in their home countries.

Mark Fittock Australia (Round 3)
Current Position: Project Engineer at DLR (2010)
Near the end of my studies for mechanical engineering, mathematics, and astrophysics in Australia, I learnt about the SpaceMaster programme and thought that it sounded interesting and that, maybe a few years after graduation, it might be a useful programme to join. Luckily for me, I decided to hunt down some more information about the course and, in true “carpe diem” style, realized that the best time to do it was right away.
Beginning the study in Germany, moving to Kiruna (where I stayed for my second year), and moving finally to the north of Germany for my thesis was a huge culture shock for me, the sheer number of cultural backgrounds of the students takes many by surprise. Despite early difficulties, adjustment comes with time and I learnt to appreciate it. With many different cultural and educational backgrounds, there is much to learn from your fellow students, from integration and high-level physics to cocktails that you’ve never seen before! Forming close bonds with many other students was a huge advantage for studying a demanding course in a foreign country; without the friends I made in SpaceMaster, I would not be where I am today.
Now, I work for the German Aerospace Center (DLR) at the Institute of Space Systems. I was lucky enough to participate and launch an experiment on board a high-altitude balloon in the REXUS/BEXUS student programme with four other SpaceMasters. Through this I found a thesis at DLR and after completing my study, was asked to apply for a position. I work as a project engineer for REXUS/BEXUS and other sounding rocket programmes. Every day I use knowledge that I acquired during SpaceMaster, you realize that the hard work pays off though in understanding many facets of the space industry that you would not have been exposed to otherwise.
I’ll always be glad I made the decision to join SpaceMaster. It gave me the boost to launch my career in the space industry.

Martin Rudolph Germany (Round 3)

The two years in the SpaceMaster program have been an enriching experience in every aspect. It not only provided me with a broad knowledge on physics, engineering and management relevant to space technology, but it also provided a stimulating environment for compelling and fruitful discussions with fellow students from various professional and cultural backgrounds. This unique combination prepared me well for a career in applied space research, where international and multidisciplinary cooperation is the order of the day.
The SpaceMaster staff was always supportive when planning our own ideas and extracurricular activities. This gave me the possibility to intern at Cosine in the Netherlands and to carry out my Master’s thesis at ONERA in Toulouse. Last but not least, we ran Stratospheric Census, a high-altitude balloon experiment that successfully proved a novel concept for dust research in the stratosphere.
After two inspiring years of SpaceMaster, I now work for Fraunhofer EMI in Germany on innovative solutions to enhance survivability of spacecraft in an increasingly hostile space debris environment.

Jean-Dominique Coste France (Round 2)

Current Position: Columbus Payload Integration Engineer at Astrium Space Transportation (2010)
I am now starting a career within the Human Spaceflight program, working on integration and project coordination of payloads for Europe’s main space outpost: the Columbus laboratory onboard the International Space Station. This work involves interaction with international project teams, astronauts, ESA and NASA. It blends engineering, science and management aspects in a multicultural context: exactly what SpaceMaster prepares for.
I entered SpaceMaster with a BSc. in Applied Physics, which portrayed me as a “scientist” in the group. I have been very interested in the integrated science/engineering approach developed in the program, particularly in Kiruna where I spent my second year. I choosed a combined track, and obtained a deep understanding in “what do we look for in space and why”, and “how do we do it”. It is indeed crucial for a scientist to know what are the engineer’s capabilities and expectations, and vice-versa. This has been a focal point in the teaching and is one of the reasons that make this program unique. The fascinating and challenging student team projects also gave me precious hints in international project management – along with dedicated lectures in Kiruna.
I entered the space professional world at ESA for my master thesis, and from now on at Astrium. I can say without a doubt that SpaceMaster prepares students best for this business, as it is tailored to its particular needs: global understanding of the various fields, of the interaction between the different players involved, specialization in one area, and smooth handling of international cooperation.
Last but not least, SpaceMaster is a life-changing, mind-opening experience on a personal point of view. It gathers brilliant, passionate and like-minded young individuals that maintain a stimulating and truly enjoyable atmosphere not only for the 2-year course but long after graduation days are gone. Seriously…Join us !

David Leal Martínez México (Round 3)

David graduated from Electronic Systems Engineering, a bachelor’s degree which is a mixture of computer science and electronics focusing on robotics and artificial intelligence, at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Monterrey, Mexico. Afterwards he worked in the fields of IT, Electronic Design, Wireless Networks and Test Automation during 3 years before starting the SpaceMaster Program in 2007. On his second year of SpaceMaster, David went to the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) where he focused on Robotics. In his master’s thesis "Reconfigurable Multi Robot Society Based on Lego Mindstorms" he created the society from scratch and he presented it in the AAAI Robot Workshop, part of the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) 2009.
In the summer of 2009, after graduating from SpaceMaster he started working as a Researcher in Aalto University (Formerly known as TKK) in Helsinki, Finland. There he is leading a group of students researching the use of robots in ceilings for multiple applications including space, and is also working in Aalto University’s Design Factory, a new project in Aalto University where students from business, design and technological backgrounds come together to turn their ideas into reality. Here David works in the Electronics Prototyping laboratory helping guide new businesses in bringing their ideas to life with embedded systems and electronics.
“SpaceMaster has not only given me knowledge in space science and technology, but also a new way of thinking and looking at the world, now I feel ready for anything”, David Leal

Johan Blomqvist Sweden (Round 3)
Current Position: Columbus Flight Controller at CAM-Systems (2010)
I joined one of LTU’s 4½ year engineering program in 2004. Since I was a student at the coordinating university of SpaceMaster, it made me hear a lot about what that program could offer. Therefore, I decided to join the third round in 2007. It turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.
Through SpaceMaster I’ve gone to Germany, UK (second year), and USA (thesis) for space related studies. I have gotten to know students from all over the world (the master class contained more than 20 nationalities) and I’ve increased my professional and personal network orders of magnitude more than I would have, if staying at one university throughout my studies. I am positive this experience helped me to land my current job at the Columbus Control Centre (COL-CC) in Germany; a truly international environment. In the control room there are rarely two people of the same nationality and on “the loop” (the radio communication medium used in the ISS program) you find even more nationals.
I’m the Data Management Engineer & Communication Officer. The job offers extensive training in various locations such as the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. On average, completing the entire certification takes 9-12 months; where some of the payload training provided to the flight controllers is the same as the astronauts’. Even when certified, the training doesn’t stop. Learning about more systems and taking on more responsibility is always on the agenda.
Through SpaceMaster, I gained the knowledge of space technology and the international experience, which without question opened up the door to be a part of Human Space Flight. The past two years has been challenging, with late evenings buried in books and assignments. However, looking back, it was a joy and I would do it all again. Because of this, I have one piece of advice if you are considering joining SpaceMaster; as we say on the loop: “Go ahead!”

Maria del Carmen, Islas Mexico (Round 1)
Current Position: Young Development Engineer at EADS Space Transportation (Friedrichshafen, Germany - 2010)
Background: Mechatronic Engineer
I joined the SpaceMaster course right after finishing my studies in Mexico. It was a dream that became true, the opportunity to study engineering related to space. In a few words: I learnt how to apply my previous studies into the many different areas of the space industry. It was truly interesting. I started my second year in Toulouse, and did my thesis at CESR (Centre d'Etude Spatiale de Rayonnements), the institute from Paul Sabatier University, where I developed a user interface for a system which is used to calibrate space instruments.
I did not only successfully complete my professional career but also I learnt valuable lessons for my life: living in different countries, learning from different cultures, improving my languages skills, team work, getting to know interesting people, etc.
After the thesis, I joined EADS Space Transportation as an intern, then as a trainee, and finally as a "young" engineer. I am working in tests campaigns for the experiments of the Materials Science Laboratory, a payload on board the International Space Station. It was launched last year in Shuttle Mission STS-128.

Gerrit Holl Netherlands (Round 3)

It is February 2010 and I am a PhD student at the Department of Space Science, Luleå University of Technology, Kiruna Space Campus, Kiruna, Sweden. I am researching methods to retrieve information about clouds from satellite measurements, by combining measurements from different satellites in so-called "collocations". I enjoy my position. How did I get here?
My personal SpaceMaster-history starts in the autumn of 2005. In the 3rd year of my Bachelor in Applied Physics, I was an Erasmus exchange student. From my home university (University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands) I went on an exchange to Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden. From my major in Applied Physics, I decided to spend one semester abroad. During this semester, I felt how great it is to study in a highly international environment. As it was the 3rd year of my Bachelor, I was starting to think about what I wanted to do next. I like physics, but the masters offered by my home university did not look particularly exciting for me. And I actually enjoyed studying abroad a lot more than studying at home. One chilly morning, it was probably around -10 degrees, I saw the advertisement for SpaceMaster partly in a town even further north, and from that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do.
I applied to start in the year 2007/2008, and I was admitted. Two years of studies in a multi-disciplinary field in a highly international environment were starting. The time in Würzburg was great, but for me, a scientist, the best part started when we moved to Kiruna. I arrived on a mild and sunny day in winter, just -8 degrees, I was picked up from the railway station by a staff member and driven to my dorm. An excellent service starting an excellent new phase in my studies.
The academic environment in Kiruna was (and is) perfect for me. Engineers and scientists profit from the proximity to this corner of European space science and industry: the Institute of Space Physics, Esrange, Eiscat and others guarantee nearby expertise in space science, atmospheric science and balloon and rocket projects. The latter was of great help for the BEXUS project in which I took part: Stratospheric Census. And the science going on in Kiruna turned out to match exactly what I wanted to do: working with Earth observation from space, thus applying my physics background, my Spacemaster knowledge and skills, and my strong interest for the tiny part of Space that we as humans inhabit. And all of this in a small-scale environment, at an institute small enough to know everyone by name, with staff who are easy to reach and helpful. This was my place.
Despite the hard work in all the courses, there was time to have fun. Fun in Kiruna, but particularly outside Kiruna. Travel! Road trips! Many times I went to Lofoten, in winter, spring and summer, to enjoy the magnificent nature. And thus recharge for the next exam in the courses that might fit less to my personal preferences and skills - of course, those exist.
Spacemaster has given me the opportunity to spend two years in a highly inspirational environment among friendly, interesting and talented students from all over the world. I would not have had this opportunity in a "simple" master course, and I would not have discovered the specific field that I work in now. And so I return to where I started: as a PhD student at the department where I spent three out of four semesters of my Spacemaster studies. To learn further for what I really want to do with my life: science.