Careers in the satellite and space industry

Curious about the space industry and the wide range of careers available to you?

Think you have to be a scientist or engineer to take part? In this article, we highlight exciting space careers which require backgrounds ranging from artists and designers to writers and historians to geographers and climatologists. And, we will share how you can kick-start your space career by taking part in the amazing Nanosat Design Competition.

The space industry is, by necessity, multidisciplinary. In order to launch an environmental observation satellite, you need everything from satellite engineers to climatologists. Launching a space startup requires the same breadth of positions as any other company, from computer scientists to marketing leads. Sending a single astronaut to space necessitates hundreds of people, from Russian teachers to space doctors. In short, this means there is space for almost any background in the space industry. And, with the UK’s space industry growing quickly, chances are, there is a role out there for someone just like you. 

In this article, there is not enough time to share an example of every possible space career, but we’d like to share a few…

Environmental Scientist: Ultimately, any satellite launch is always driven by needs on Earth. In the 21st century, one of humanity’s greatest needs will be to prevent catastrophic climate change and the collapse of biodiversity. In order to contribute to this effort, thousands of scientists across the world analyse data to better understand the environment, including space data. Often, this means using datasets produced by existing satellites, or working closely with teams of engineers to design new satellites that fulfil an outstanding scientific data need. If you want to help save the planet, and also have a passion for space, this could be the career path for you.

Creative Designer: It is not a coincidence that some of humanity’s greatest artworks, from van Gogh’s Starry Night, to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, are inspired by the beauty of the cosmos. Space is inspiring, and offers limitless opportunities for the creative-minded. If you fit into this category, therefore, there are literally thousands  of space companies, agencies and other organisations with visions that need artistic and inspired minds to bring to life. Entering the space industry as a creative designer could reveal opportunities from helping a space startup establish their unique character, to seeing a logo you designed launch on the side of a rocket.

Law and Policy Analyst: Space is perhaps one of the most fascinating areas for budding social scientists and humanities students. On a national level, space industries flourish or stagnate based on their policy and regulatory environment. Both space law and policy combine a fascinating mix of disciplines, from geopolitics to innovation ecosystems, to help aspiring space nations succeed. On an international level, things are no less interesting, if anything, they are even more exciting. At this very moment, space diplomats and experts in international law are shaping the future of rules and norms in space. The problems they are trying to solve include the mitigation of space debris and the safe use of space resources. Could you be next to join their ranks? 

Space Cybersecurity Analyst: Currently, in Earth orbit, there are over 7,000 satellites. On board satellites are computers that process data ranging from images to communications (like text messages or phone calls). The satellites themselves are controlled by computer systems on Earth. Just like any other computer system, these systems can be hacked. We depend on satellites for many of the services we use every day, such as the internet, weather forecasts, and navigation on our phones. It is therefore critical that we protect our satellites from cyber-attacks. This fact means there is currently great demand in the space industry for analytical thinkers and problem solvers with software and computer science experience to help protect us from cyber threats in space. If this sounds like you, you may want to consider a career in space cybersecurity. 

And what better way to kick-start these potential career’s than to join the Nanosat Design Competition? There is zero requirement for previous knowledge or experience in the space industry to take part.  We want everyone to apply. Teams can be made of up to 10 people and shortlisted entries will get tailored mentoring support to pull together an actual satellite design. Winners of the competition will be awarded part of a £600k prize pot to bring the satellite design to life. And who knows, maybe it will even make it to space!  

Are you ready for the challenge? Register now.

And, if you are interested in reading more about career opportunities in space, check out these helpful resources:

European Space Education Resource Office UK:

LaunchUK is a partnership between the UK Space Agency and the Department for Transport, and supported by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Nanosat Design Competition is designed to inspire and engage young people about launch from the UK and to encourage engagement with STEM subjects.