Here are the UK Space Agency's Top Ten Tips to help you launch your career within the space industry.
1. STUDY STEM SUBJECTS - Students studying STEM subjects enjoy advantages when trying to get their career off the ground. Physics and mathematics are the most important subjects at secondary level, whilst degree disciplines in mathematics, physics, computer science, astrophysics, materials science, engineering (aerospace, electronic and mechanical) are all good routes into the industry.
2. EXPLORE APPRENTICESHIPS AND GRADUATE ENTRY SCHEMES - Entry into the space industry can be through apprenticeships or graduate entry schemes. Companies such as Astrium run both. Also, visit the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (SEMTA) for training routes into engineering.
3. ILLUSTRATE BREADTH OF SKILLS - The space sector relies on innovation, so employers like to see evidence of wide interests, adaptability and practical skills as well as good qualifications. Knowledge of commercial and management practices is also useful.
4. ACQUIRE LANGUAGE SKILLS AND CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING - Space activities are increasingly international, so foreign language skills and an understanding of different cultures are useful assets.
5. FIND OUT ABOUT PLACEMENTS and funding opportunities, before, during and after your education.
6. TALK TO PEOPLE - Join a network of people keen to share their love of space. The Royal Aeronautical Society
, British Interplanetary Society
, Royal Astronomical Society and Institute of Physics are all keen to encourage junior members. UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS) has many university branches and is part of the world’s largest space enthusiast student organisation.
7. KEEP IN TOUCH - Use the excellent information provided by space agencies, including the UK Space Agency, European Space Agency and NASA. They have excellent websites and newsfeeds, as well as a Facebook page.
8. GET OUT THERE - Visit places and companies that provide industry insights. This includes airshows, such as Farnborough International; the National Space Centre in Leicester; Intech; Royal Observatory, Greenwich; Spaceport; the Science Museum; Glasgow Science Centre. Science and engineering ambassadors from companies such as Astrium and SSTL run outreach schools and hands-on workshops. This can include regular visits to their manufacturing sites.
9. GET INVOLVED - UK universities, second only to the United States in the quality of research, run outreach programmes. The South East Physics Network offers student and teacher workshops to promote careers in space. The Science and Technology Facilities Council offers school outreach projects and ambassadors. The University of Leicester runs a Space School (SSUK ) runs residential programmes for different age groups.
10. GET COMPETITIVE - Space has thrived on competitions to uncover talent such as the X-Prize and the Ukayroc Rocketry Challenge. There are many competitions aimed at engaging young people with industry challenges and the opportunity to work with industry mentors.