Luleå University of Technology is experiencing strong growth with world-leading competence in several areas of research. Our research is conducted in close collaboration with industries such as LKAB, Ericsson, Boliden, ABB, Epiroc and leading international universities. Luleå University of Technology has a total turnover of SEK 1.8 billion per year. We currently have 1 770 employees and 17 200 students.

We shape the future through innovative education and groundbreaking research. Drawing on our location in the Arctic region, we create global societal benefit.

Creaternity is an interdisciplinary research initiative to achieve the transition to a sustainable society. Creaternity Graduate School spans over many research subjects at Luleå University of Technology to create a holistic view in order to tackle the sustainability challenges. The Graduate School includes courses and other activities that will provide doctoral students with knowledge and tools to determine how the earth’s resources could be used and reused in the best way.

The research subjects Onboard Space Systems and Product Innovation together announce a position as PhD candidate in a research project that strives to investigate the possibilities to reuse material from obsolete satellites in space, as an alternative to disposal. In addition to the Creaternity Graduate School, the PhD candidate will be part of The Graduate School of Space Technology.

In the Onboard Space Systems subject, research is conducted on payloads, spacecraft, and launchers for technology demonstration and utilisation, as well as space applications and exploration in the upper atmosphere, in Earth orbit and in planetary space.

The research subject Product Innovation focuses on various aspects of innovation in the product development process, from early phases of innovation to production and lifecycle commitments, and research results are translated into methods, tools, prototypes and demonstrators for industrial as well as academic settings.

The Graduate School of Space Technology was established 2001 in close cooperation with the Swedish space industry and IRF – the Swedish Institute of Space Physics. In total 45 PhDs have graduated. The graduate school represents an important network for PhD students in space related fields such as aerospace and systems engineering, space sciences and technology as well as innovation an entrepreneurship. It provides PhD courses, and insights into the Swedish space sector and the space science research and commercial space ecosystem in Kiruna. 

Subject descriptions 
Onboard Space Systems includes systems for control, instrumentation and communication in the upper atmosphere and in space. Of particular importance are reliable, radiation resistant low-power electronic systems and miniaturization of these.  

Product Innovation comprises theories and methods for needs- and knowledge-driven development processes where products and services are linked. 

Project description 
The need for material circularity is not limited to human activities on Earth, but in fact stretches into space. With digitalization and connectivity for Earth applications, an immense increase is foreseen in the number of satellites being launched into an already “over-crowded” orbital space, where risk of collisions with human-made space debris is prevalent. This project cannot address the whole range of the problem but strives to investigate the possibilities to reuse material from obsolete satellites in space, as an alternative to its disposal. A conceptual solution is suggested, to approach, collect, process, convert, store and transfer valuable material content of obsolete satellites for reuse in space, and it is strongly connected – but not limited – to several academic and research topics, among them: spacecraft and satellite mission design, business case and product innovation, national and international treaties and policies, governmental and industry stakeholders, entrepreneurial and commercial space ecosystem.  

The tasks are varied, and you work independently with everything from PhD courses to participating in seminars and conferences. Furthermore, you will be able to plan and perform empirical studies, write and publish scientific articles and complete your doctoral dissertation. In addition to contributing to the academic environment in the form of increased understanding and knowledge of the subject, the research results are also translated into methods, tools and guidelines for industrial application. The work therefore involves close collaboration with researchers and industry representatives from Swedish industry.

You are part of one of the subject areas Onboard Space Systems or Product Innovation, with close collaboration with the other, and will be part of the two graduate schools for Creaternity and Space Technology.

The PhD education includes a number of compulsory doctoral courses where several are taken together with doctoral students in the research schools. Within the graduate schools also workshops and symposia are arranged for participants. There is also a possibility to participate in national research school activities (e.g. Produktion2030).

We seek a candidate with an excellent academic standing for both master’s and bachelor’s degrees within common fields of engineering, natural sciences or business-related engineering, e.g. aerospace engineering or technology, mechanical or electrical engineering, computer sciences, industrial engineering and management, or the equivalent. Strong written and oral communication skills in English are required. Also, evidence of proficiency in scientific writing and hands-on experience and expertise in in multidisciplinary systems engineering encompassing e.g. space technology, materials, production, machine design, software development, laboratory and test work are considered an advantage. Moreover, the work requires teamwork and collaboration skills, as well as independency and a strong personal drive to finish tasks. 

For further information about a specific subject see;  General curricula for the Board of the faculty of science and technology.

The postgraduate education corresponds to 4 years full-time studies and will result in a PhD degree. Administration and/or lecturing of maximum 20% of full-time may be added. Location: Luleå or Kiruna.

For further information, please contact:  Professor/Chair Onboard Space Systems René Laufer, +46  (0)980 67582,, or Head of Division Victoria Barabash, +46 (0)980 67532, Professor/Chair Product Innovation Anna Öhrwall Rönnbäck, +46 (0)920-49 3262, or Head of Division Jörgen Normark, +46 (0)920-491480, 

Union representatives: SACO-S Kjell Johansson (+46)920-49 1529 or OFR-S Lars Frisk, +46 (0)920 49 1792

In case of different interpretations of the English and Swedish versions of this announcement, the Swedish version takes precedence. 

We prefer that you apply for this position by clicking on the apply button below. The application should include a CV, motivation letter where you can reflect briefly on the theme of the project (appr. ¼ page), copies of verified diplomas from high school and universities, and a report (MSc thesis or the like) that you have written. Mark your application with the reference number below. Your application, including diplomas, must be written in English or Swedish. 

Reference number: 713-2021 
Deadline for application: April 30, 2021