An interview with a trainee from the Netherlands

For the past four months we have had a trainee from the Netherlands, Koen Lucassen at the Norwegian center for space-related education (NAROM), a part of and co-located with Andøya Space Center (ASC). We have talked to him about his stay and asked him to tell us about this trainee experience.

  • During European Space Camp, Koen actually met a visiting cosmonaut, Andrei Borisenko.
  • Koen as the pilot for Sapceship Aurora, a visiting center at Andøya Space Center.
  • Koen holding the student rocket, in which his payload was mounted.
  • Koen gave an open lecture about his work during his time at Andøya Space Center.

Koen, tell us a little bit about your stay at Andøya Space Center and what this has meant for you.

— For an university student from the Netherlands, studying Aerospace Engineering, to work at a space center (in the North) is a dream opportunity. Not only you get the possibility to finally put the theory you have learned into practice. But you also get to smell, feel, touch the rocket and witness a lot of sounding rocket launches. Beside the rocket launches, there are a lot more (understatement) activities going on at NAROM and ASC. This makes it a very interesting place to stay, as you get to speak to a lot of very professional and enthusiastic people and share your common interest in Space.

Is there something that you would highlight from the past four months?

— For an university student from the Netherlands, studying Aerospace Engineering, to work at a space center (in the North) is a dream opportunity.

— Looking back on my Internship period, I have to say I enjoyed every second of the past four months here at the space center. If I need to highlight my personal favorite moments during my stay, I have to say the two launches, where my payload was active. The week of the launch itself was pretty stressful, but at the same time very exciting and even more at the moment you get the launch data.

You mention you «payload», tell us more about this.

— In total during my stay, I was able to see five rocket campaigns going on at the Space Center, but the last one European Space Camp (ESC) was my favorite. The reason for this is that I was assigned as group leader during this campaign for a new group (GPS) together with Jose. My part of the group work was the practical work which was focused on my design «The GPS-IMU payload». I have to admit that this was quite a tough job as the students of ESC are very clever and I had little experience in teaching. But I love to share my knowledge about space and of my design with these students, also because I am still myself a student, I felt that I was standing close to all the participants. At the end we got back some great evaluations of the group work.

Can you elaborate a little more on the GPS-IMU payload?

— The goal of the payload is to find the position and orientation of the rocket during the flight. To achieve this I have designed «The GPS-IMU payload», where the GPS provides you from absolute position measurements and the Inertial Measurement Unit maps the dynamic behavior of the rocket.

So how does this GPS-IMU payload fits in our current student rocket programs?

— The goal of the payload is to find the position and orientation of the rocket during the flight.

— Well, I think this payload gives a lot of more opportunities for the student rockets. Not only does it provide a whole new subsystem that needs to be integrated, but also the students get the opportunity to program the micro-controller and make design trade-offs. When the data is available, the students then get a direct feedback on the design trade-offs made in the earlier stage. In my opinion this is great as you are able to give the student some more responsibility. Another great addition is that the position measurements of the GPS allows you to verify the results of the pressure sensor of the rocket.

Now that your internship has come to an end, what will you be doing in the next couple of years?

— The next challenge that lies ahead for me is an exchange semester at the University of Glasgow. I will partly enjoy my holiday there and follow a few extra courses here on Fluid dynamics and Control system design. These course will provide me more background for my Master thesis in «Guidance Navigation and Control» which is coming up.

Thanks for your excellent contribution to our work and a a great team player at NAROM. Good luck with your future plans and we hope to see you again sometime.

If you want to get in contact with Koen, he can be reached via email.