Skip to content
Pau Molas Roca, Luleå University of Technology
Pau Molas Roca at the Master Programme in Spacecraft Design at Luleå University of Technology, next to the BEXUS instrument he and his project group developed as a project course, "Through this BEXUS project, an SNSA, DLR, and ESA Educational program, we experienced a real space instrument mission". View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Spacecraft design student at prestigious congress

Published: 25 June 2019

Pau Molas Roca, a student at the Master Programme of Spacecraft Design at Luleå University of Technology, will give a presentation about a research topic related to Hybrid Rocket Motors at the 70th International Astronautical Congress.

The congress will take place in Washington DC in October and Pau Molas Roca really looks forward to it.

– It is a tremendous honor to attend the congress. The chance to be there and present is a great opportunity for several reasons. One, of course, is to show the work done in an elegant and professional manner. Only publishing the research would had been great, but giving a presentation in front of the leading space companies and institutions is outer-worldly. Plus, I’m a fan of presentations and I believe scientific divulgation, thus sharing knowledge for everyone to use it, is the best way we have to evolve as society.

What will you talk about at the congress, what is your research topic about?

– The research, which I will be publishing as a paper and presenting at the conference, is about the Design of a Scalable Hybrid Rocket Motor for Space Propulsion applications, mainly for satellites. This study arose unexpectedly from part of my internship work. Although my Master Thesis focused on designing the structure of a Hybrid rocket motor, at the end it ended up being a much more challenging, although motivating, work. After many back and forth, my thesis turned out to shift from a motor structural design to a deep space mission design funded by JAXA. Now it includes, not only the developed code, but the first iteration flight model design of the HRM and the micro satellite that will carry it. The latter means, setting mission requirements, launcher selection, structural design of the spacecraft and HRM (focused on how to manufacture them), propulsion feed system design, technical drawings, mass budgets, and components selection, among other side tasks. 

Pau Molas Roca is originally from Catalonia and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Ever since he was a child, he dreamt about being able to design airplanes. Though the path altered a bit and he ended up within the realm of Space Engineering and now, Spacecraft Design at Luleå University of Technology.

– I chose this program because what it offered. It was the program I was looking for: project focused courses, little community, thus a great environment to expand myself as an engineer. The courses were great, so were the classmates, professors and university staff. Little by little we learned as a group the different aspects of spacecraft design. Important, team projects are a must to train for the real life. Although the program is still maturing, it has a great potential. It is now a remarkable programme and, in my opinion it is safe to say that it has the potential to become one of the world leading master programmes for Spacecraft Design. Overall, the engineers that get out of this master program are fully prepared to face any kind of space job and provided the multi-disciple formation, have a great potential to become systems engineers.

What has it been like to live in Kiruna?

– My time in Kiruna was an amazing, unforgettable experience which I would repeat. To picture that, I would like to say that I got to call Kiruna my home. That hadn’t happened to me until then, I’m too in love with my hometown and Catalonia, but Kiruna fired something inside me, I loved it. As a mountaineer (skier and climber), lover of outdoors, and adventurer, I found Kiruna a dream place. It offered me everything that feeds my daily life, while allowing me to simultaneously continue my education. I have to say that getting involved in the local community was what I appreciated and I’m most thankful of. Open people that were always willing to share knowledge and experiences. With them I discovered the real Lappland, the traditions, the food, I skied in the Norwegian fjords and Lyngen, climbed in Lofoten, volunteered as a photographer in the Swedish ski-alpinism Championships (being able to summit Kebnekaise), I went out with snowmobile, ice fishing, fly fishing, aurora hunting, and, most importantly, made lifetime friends.

What do want to do after you graduate from Spacecraft Design?

– I want to contribute to human technological development, especially in the space field, by seeking continuous challenge. I’m committed towards creating a better future by expanding human knowledge with sustainable development and impact-driven outcomes. How? Well, there are many options nowadays. Definitely, my goal is to take part into real space missions design (as I’m already doing in my thesis project), rather than focusing on research. I’m ready to work with motivated teams either designing satellites, rockets, or motors. Hands-on challenging projects is what drives me. 

Finally, Pau Molas Roca has a valuable piece of advice to those concidering entering the world of university studies in general and the world of space in particular.

– Too often, students just go to university to pass, get a degree and then figure it out. I have to say that this is a misleading behavior. Kiruna and some of my classmates here showed me the way to go. As students, we are given the opportunity to get involved in projects. It is up to us to either commit to these or not. The key to success, and by success I mean liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it; is to get the most out of each experience. I encourage students to take part in events, join team projects, start crazy ideas. It is not about the grades at the end, is about the knowledge, the know-how you are able to absorb, the one that will help you open the big doors in your future career. This can only be achieved if done in accordance with your feelings, it has to be something inherent in your actions, it has to motivate and trigger passion inside you.