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Types of careers

Organisations in space sector recruit only engineers? Not only! Through the development of the sector and space exploration, many new jobs are emerging. Discover various possible career opportunities!




It is well known that spaceflight affects the human body in various ways. The human cardiovascular system has followed a long adaptation process to gravity and changes in postures which when in space are obsoleted and necessitate a re-adaptation or remodeling process. Indeed, when standing our blood in the cardiovascular system is subject to an orthostatic pressure gradient. Therefore, to allow rapid increase in blood pressure when standing, in order to maintain homeostasis, there are a series of cardiac and vascular responses that are needed. When in space these pressure gradients no longer exist and the normal cardiovascular reflexes becomes attenuated to a point that when astronauts are landing after a long duration (6 months) spaceflight, they present difficulties to stand up and can faint upon standing. This is known as the orthostatic intolerance syndrome and has still no efficient remedy. This could very well jeopardize a long duration mission such as a human exploration of Mars.


Spending long periods at low gravity may alter genes, suggests a new experiment involving a magnet-powered trick used on Earth to simulate weightlessness in space.
Subjected to magnetic levitation that generated an effect similar to microgravity experienced by astronauts orbiting Earth, fruit flies experienced changes in crucial genes.
Humans won’t necessarily respond like fruit flies, but the system is considered an useful model for probing the effects of permanent free-fall on biology. However, it’s also possible that the gene disruption was caused by magnetism, not low gravity.

Oncology/radiation effects

On Earth, our planet's mass, atmosphere and magnetic field protect us from hazardous space radiation. Even astronauts on the International Space Station are flying within Earth's magnetic field, shielded from most of the radiation. Our Sun is a strong source of radiation, a gigantic fusion reactor constantly sending out charged protons and other atomic particles and occasionally erupting like a volcano, throwing out intense, dangerous bursts of radiation.
There are also powerful heavy ions coming from our galaxy, the Milky Way, which carry billions of times more energy than those from radioactivity on Earth.
This galactic cosmic radiation is dangerous in itself, but when it smashes into spacecraft walls the shower of secondary particles can make the astronauts' living quarters even more hazardous than being outside.


Under the weightless and confined environment of spaceflight, astronauts are at risk of breathing dust and small particles free floating in the atmosphere. These particles can enter deep into the lungs, from the airways ducts to the alveolae. Depending on their composition they can cause irritation, bacterial contamination, or even lead to cancer. Therefore the development of efficient air filtering and cleaning systems is a priority, as also is the development of appropriate diagnostic devices. Source: ESA


Space flights that last six months or longer can cause changes in astronauts' eyes and vision. This discovery is having a major impact on plans for a manned flight to Mars. Research shows that long-term exposure to the extreme, no-gravity environment in space can wreak havoc on the eye’s structure and normal operation.


Plasma physics is the study of plasmas as they occur naturally in the universe. As such, it encompasses a far-ranging number of topics, such as heliophysics which includes the solar physics of the sun: the solar wind, planetary magnetospheres and ionospheres, auroras, cosmic rays, and synchrotron radiation. Space physics is a fundamental part of the study of space weather and has important implications not only to understanding the universe, but also to practical everyday life, including the operation of communications and weather satellites. Space physics is distinct from other fields of astrophysics which study similar phenomena, in that space physics utilizes in situ measurements from high altitude rockets and spacecraft.


Nutrition has played a critical role throughout the history of exploration, and space exploration is no exception. While a one- to two-week flight aboard the Space Shuttle might be analogous to a camping trip, adequate nutrition is absolutely critical when spending several months aboard the International Space Station or several years on a mission to another planet. To ensure adequate nutrition, space-nutrition specialists must know how much of various individual nutrients astronauts need, and these nutrients must be available in the spaceflight food system. To complicate matters, spaceflight nutritional requirements are influenced by many of the physiological changes that occur during spaceflight.


A major effect of long-term weightlessness involves the loss of bone and muscle mass. Without the effects of gravity, skeletal muscle is no longer required to maintain posture and the muscle groups used in moving around in a weightless environment differ from those required in terrestrial locomotion. In a weightless environment, astronauts put almost no weight on the back muscles or leg muscles used for standing up. Those muscles then start to weaken and eventually get smaller. Consequently, some muscles atrophy rapidly, and without regular exercise astronauts can lose up to 20% of their muscle mass in just 5 to 11 days the types of muscle fiber prominent in muscles also change. Due to microgravity and the decreased load on the bones, there is a rapid increase in bone loss, from 3% cortical bone loss per decade to about 1% every month the body is exposed to microgravity, for an otherwise healthy adult. The rapid change in bone density is dramatic, making bones frail and resulting in symptoms which resemble those of osteoporosis. In space, however, there is an increase in osteoclast activity due to microgravity...


Space travel takes the human body out of its natural habitat and places it into an unknown and sometimes harsh environment. One of HRP's primary activities is the study of the human physiological response to space travel and exploration. HRP researchers and engineers study the human body, how it responds to different conditions, and to the situations that can arise during space exploration. Scientists use these findings to develop and test countermeasures that can reduce or reverse the potentially harmful impacts of the space environment. The major areas of HRP's physiological research include bone health, muscle function, cardiovascular response, sensorimotor systems, immunology, and behavioral health. The human body is a remarkably complex assembly of systems. To carry out even the simplest task requires the input and cooperation of a highly orchestrated set of subsystems, such as nerves, bones, muscles, organs, and tissues. Scientists and engineers have dedicated decades of study to understanding the limits, constraints, and challenges that face the human body in the environment of space.


Science disciplines 


Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life on Earth or in the universe. This interdisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in the Solar System and habitable planets outside the Solar System (exoplanets).


Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, discovering the secrets of stellar evolution and being involved in space missions from concept until science output. Guiding a team of young researchers to start their career and discover their live path. Mesmerising students with the wonders of the Universe. Traveling all over Belgium and the world to talk to scientists, engineers, school students, and the general public about my passion. (Katrijn Clémer)


The Biochem Profile experiment tests blood and urine samples obtained from astronauts before, during and after spaceflight. Specific proteins and chemicals in the samples are used as biomarkers, or indicators of health. Post-flight analysis yields a database of samples and test results, which scientists can use to study the effects of spaceflight on the body.


Cultivating plants for food was a significant step in the history of mankind. Growing plants for food in space and on other planets will be necessary for exploration of our Universe. Stems and leaves grow towards the light and against gravity, while roots follow gravity. What role does gravity play in this process and what can we learn from growing plants in weightlessness? Which unknown aspects of plants will be discovered by this kind of research? Research in space focuses on the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, a model plant used as a reference for biologists. It has already been shown that plants 'feel' gravity at a cellular level, mainly in cells located at the tip of the root. Experiments on the International Space Station are investigating how this process works, from the primary step of sensing gravity to investigating how the whole plant responds.


Climatology is the study of climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time. Climate models are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the weather and climate system to projections of future climate.

Earth observation

The single location where we can learn the most about our planet is found nowhere on Earth but high up above it. The ability to fly satellites into space has changed all our lives in many ways, but the single greatest innovation has been the availability of new ways of seeing the world that satellites leave behind. Early pictures of the Earth seen from space became icons of the Space Age, and encouraged an increased awareness of the precious nature of our common home. Today, images of our planet from orbit are acquired continuously; they have become powerful scientific tools to enable better understanding and improved management of the Earth and its environment.

Fluid mechanics

There are several methods for analyzing the dynamic behavior of fluids under normal gravity conditions on Earth. A common assumption in such methods is that the free surface of the fluid is flat and at right angles to the direction in which gravity is acting, i.e. normal to the gravity vector. In this case, surface tension does not contribute to the fluid's dynamic behavior. However, this assumption is no longer valid if gravity is significantly reduced, as is the case for a satellite in orbit.
An indicator of the importance of the surface tension is the so-called 'Bond number', which is a measure of the relative magnitudes of the gravitational and capillary forces. It is proportional to the gravity level, the fluid density and the square of the characteristic length of the fluid's free surface, and is inversely proportional to the surface tension of the fluid. If the Bond number is much greater than 1, the surface- tension effects can be neglected; if it is much less than 1, the gravity forces can be neglected.


Geology no longer is the study of the Earth. Rocks are found throughout the universe on other planets, asteroids and comets and as debris ranging in size down to the tiniest pieces of stardust.


Geophysics is concerned with the physical processes and physical properties of the Earth and its surrounding space environment, and the use of quantitative methods for their analysis. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the Earth's shape, its gravitational and magnetic fields, its internal structure and composition, its dynamics and their surface expression in plate tectonics, the generation of magmas, volcanism and rock formation.


Gravimetry is the measurement of the strength of a gravitational field. Gravimetry may be used when either the magnitude of gravitational field or the properties of matter responsible for its creation.

Material sciences

The significantly reduced gravity environment of space allows unique science experiments to be performed. In most cases, these experiments cannot be done on the ground. On Earth, a number of gravity-driven phenomena are operative which often lead to some unwanted or deleterious effects during materials processing. The phenomena being referred to are buoyancy, convection, sedimentation and hydrostatic pressure variation and they affect virtually all processes involving fluid phases. In a reduced gravity environment, on board the International Space Station for example, the four physical phenomena are significantly suppressed. This means that objects do not experience any buoyancy forces when immersed in liquid, heavy solid particles do not sediment in a liquid, gravity-driven convection does not occur when a liquid is heated and the pressure in a liquid column does not increase with depth. Under these very different conditions, it is possible to perform carefully controlled scientific experiments that will give us greater insight into the way that crystalline and amorphous materials form. Researchers will then truly understand how the detailed microstructure of metals develop and how gravity influences industrial processes, such as casting of alloys or semiconductor crystal growth.


The Applications in Precalculus Series uses functions to represent not only algebraic and geometric situations, but those involving probability, statistics, trigonometry and calculus. Math is used in Space Science to calculate routes for satellites, rockets and space probes. In addition, math is used in the global positioning system, for transmitting messages when data is compressed, and for coding the images and element modeling to build spacecraft. As a modern example, astronauts use math to direct a space shuttle that moves at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour to a space station for a rendezvous. Complex mathematical calculations must be performed so that the two objects moving at high speed can meet at one point without causing damage to each other. Modern mathematical tools such as error analysis and the maximum principle help optimize trajectories of spacecraft. Source: Gaurav Kirti, studied Science at B.D.M. International


Microgravity is studied to learn what happens to people and equipment in space. Microgravity affects the human body in several ways. For example, muscles and bones can become weaker without gravity making them work as hard. Astronauts who live on the space station spend months in microgravity. Astronauts who travel to Mars also would spend months in microgravity traveling to and from the Red Planet. Scientists and engineers must learn about the effects of microgravity to keep astronauts safe and healthy and equipment functional. In addition, many things seem to act differently in microgravity. Fire burns differently. Without the pull of gravity, flames are rounder. Crystals grow better. Without gravity, their shapes are more perfect. Various experiments are performed to study microgravity.

Source: NASA

Optics & detectors

Optics as a discipline is all about understanding and manipulating light (or more broadly electromagnetic radiation (from X-Rays through to far-Infra-red and sub-mm waves).  We are all intimately familiar with our eyes as a vitally important imaging and sensor system (with our brain) that enables us to operate in a complex world. In a similar way spacecraft employ many different types of optical imaging and sensing systems (spectrometers) to observe and measure the Earth and the universe at large. Optical engineering is an essential capability to enable us to develop, build, test, fly and use optical instrumentation in space for the benefit of all. Think about weather satellites as a familiar example of how dependent we have become on the availability of reliable (optical) data from space. In this field of optical engineering at ESA we continuously push and enable industry and research entities in Europe to develop the best possible optical technologies for the next generation of spacecraft. Source: ESA

Space weather

Space weather is concerned with the time varying conditions within the Solar System, emphasizing the space surrounding the Earth, and includes solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere.


Seismology is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth or through other planet-like bodies. The field also includes studies of earthquake environmental effects, such as tsunamis as well as diverse seismic sources such as volcanic, tectonic, oceanic, atmospheric, and artificial processes (such as explosions).


The field is covering measurement, modelling, prediction, propagation problems, and forecasting techniques pertinent to fields and wave propagation - including antennas, signals and systems, in the terrestrial and space environment and radio in radio astronomy.

Remote sensing

Collecting and interpreting information about the environment and the surface of the earth from a distance, primarily by sensing radiation that is naturally emitted or reflected by the earth's surface or from the atmosphere, or by sensing signals transmitted from a device and reflected back to it. Examples of remote-sensing methods include satellite imaging, radar and aerial photography.

Astro chemistry

Astrochemistry is the scientific discipline – at the crossroad between astrophysics and chemistry – that deals with the study of physico-chemical processes in astrophysical environments. It investigates the way molecules form, transform and are destroyed in interstellar, circumstellar and protostellar media. Astrochemistry addresses notably the ambitous issue of molecular complexity, from the most basic molecules to prebiotic species required for the apparition of life in the Universe.

Astrophysics, planetology & solar physic

Major space observatories are presently observing (cf. HST, Gaia, XMM-Newton, JUICE, …) and are planned to observe (cf. JWST, EUCLID, JUNO, PLATO, …) the various constituents of the Universe in different spectral bands (X-rays, visible, mid-IR, …). Space astronomy thus relies on the formation and training of astronomers and engineers in space science and space engineering.


To date, it is beyond doubt that spaceflight affects the human body. Besides exposure to increased cosmic radiation levels and weightlessness, health problems can be caused by psychological stress including isolation and confinement. These stressors have a clear negative impact on the astronaut's health. The precise nature of all the different health effects is unknown and multiple underlying causes might be involved. In this regard, future space exploration will help to answer many critical questions. Understanding the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms response to physical and psychological space flight stressors would help to further understand space flight induced health effects, to develop countermeasures and to improve Earth-based pathologies and medicine. These research projects address to disciplines of life sciences, (radio) biology and microgravity and require a Master in cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology or biomedical sciences to be completed by a PhD thesis.

Celestial mechanics

Celestial mechanics deals with the motions of celestial objects. It applies principles of physics (classical mechanics) to astronomical objects, such as stars and planets, to produce ephemeris data. It deals in particular with the orbits of these objects as well as of artificial satellites.

Data analysis

Like all scientists, earth and space scientists rely on data to help them understand scientific phenomena, and ultimately to draw conclusions about scientific occurrences. Data is another way of saying facts or statistics that are collected about a particular subject. Space scientists often don't have the luxury of traveling into space to collect their data directly, so they will remotely collect it through the use of satellites and space probes. Meteorologists and geographers also will remotely collect their data, using satellites and other weather monitoring equipment. Source:

Fluid dynamics

Fluid dynamics deals with fluid flow, liquids and gases in motion. Fluid dynamics offers a systematic structure that embraces empirical and semi-empirical laws derived from flow measurement and used to solve practical problems. The solution to a fluid dynamics problem typically involves calculating various properties of the fluid, such as flow velocity, pressure, density, and temperature, as functions of space and time.


Geodesy deals with the measurement and representation of the Earth, including its gravitational field, in a three-dimensional time-varying space. Geodesists also study geodynamical phenomena such as crustal motion, tides, and polar motion.


Geomatics is a scientific/engineering discipline focussing on handling geospatial data. It includes tools and techniques related to the acquisition, the storage, the process and the delivery of spatially referenced information. Geomatics involves numerous technologies such as Land Surveying, Remote Sensing, Cartography, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) and Photogrammetry.


Scientists calculate how much the ice sheet is growing or shrinking from the changes in surface height that are measured by the satellite altimeters. In locations where the amount of new snowfall accumulating on an ice sheet is not equal to the ice flow downward and outward to the ocean, the surface height changes and the ice-sheet mass grows or shrinks.

Life sciences

Fife sciences in the context of the space research and innovation projects and activities take into consideration various aspects such as prebiotic chemistry and origin of life, life in extreme environments, habitability in the solar system and beyond, ecological life support and sustainability, functionality, monitoring and control of ecosystem in space environment, effects of space flight conditions on human bodies, non-cancer health effects of space radiation, space flight, space radiation risk assessment and countermeasures, gravitational effects in biological systems, effects of space radiation in living organisms at the cellular and molecular levels and many more.


Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a vehicle from one place to another. The field of navigation includes four general categories: land navigation, marine navigation, aeronautic navigation, and space navigation.


Weather and air quality forecasts are based on specialised Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models ingesting observations of the atmosphere, including trace gases and particles, whilst also taking into account natural and anthropogenic emissions. Numerical weather prediction uses mathematical models of the atmosphere and oceans to predict the weather based on current weather conditions. Mathematical models based on the same physical principles can be used to generate either short-term weather forecasts or longer-term climate predictions; the latter are widely applied for understanding and projecting climate change. Manipulating the vast datasets and performing the complex calculations necessary to modern numerical weather prediction requires some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

Numerical simulations

A numerical simulation is a calculation that is run on a computer following a program that implements a mathematical model for a physical system. Numerical simulations are required to study the behaviour of systems whose mathematical models are too complex to provide analytical solutions, as in most nonlinear systems. Numerical simulation is a powerful tool to study many of critically important processes connected with the motion of hypervelocity body in planetary atmosphere. Sources: and


Image result for Physics in space understanding the composition of stars and planets and how they form allows astrobiologists to talk competently about the elements that may be present in different parts of the solar system. The technologies we use to communicate with astronauts also came as a result of discoveries in physics. For example, astrophysics is a branch of space science that applies the laws of physics and chemistry to seek to understand the universe and our place in it. The field explores topics such as the birth, life and death of stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae and other objects in the universe. Sources: and

Satellite navigation

Satellite Navigation is a technology aiming at providing geospatial positioning with global coverage which is based on a global infrastructure deployed on Earth and in Space. Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), such as GPS, Galileo or GLONASS, allow users equipped with a receiver to accurately determine their location by exploiting radio signals emitted by orbiting satellites. GNSS are of ever-increasing importance in our modern society and is connected to numerous other disciplines and technologies such as Geodesy, Electronics, Electromagnetism, Telecommunications, Spacecraft Engineering, Geomatics, Space Weather, Space Physics, Aerospace Engineering, Celestial Mechanics, etc.


Planetology or Planetary science is the scientific study of planets (including Earth), moons, and planetary systems (in particular those of the Solar System) and the processes that form them.

Plasma physics

Plasma physics is the study of plasmas as they occur naturally in the universe. As such, it encompasses a far-ranging number of topics, such as heliophysics which includes the solar physics of the sun: the solar wind, planetary magnetospheres and ionospheres, auroras, cosmic rays, and synchrotron radiation. Space physics is a fundamental part of the study of space weather and has important implications not only to understanding the universe, but also to practical everyday life, including the operation of communications and weather satellites. Space physics is distinct from other fields of astrophysics which study similar phenomena, in that space physics utilizes in situ measurements from high altitude rockets and spacecraft.


Volcanology is the study of volcanoes, their eruption, lava, magma, and the related geological, geophysical and geochemical phenomena.

engineering & technical disciplines

Engineering & Technical disciplines



- The objective is to develop a sub-system or an elementary equipment in a design office: there are numerous specializations like avionics, radio/radar communications, materials and processes, propulsion, software, structures, thermal protections

- You may also work at the system level, and then you define the architecture of the launcher: trajectory optimization, optimal staging, interface with propulsion systems, electrical system design, etc.

- You may also become an expert in a very specialized field like fluid dynamics, acoustics, composite materials design, metallurgy, structural loads, structural dynamics, guidance and control, etc. In this situation, you may work for different projects.

- There are other specialized fields, like risk analysis, human factors and test logic architecture.

Less technical and more management are the jobs in


- Essentially, it's project management, production planning : they have to manage delays, cost, resources and quality to reach the objective (for example, a booster stage ready to be integrated before April, 15th)

- The second category is management of suppliers, also with objectives of delays, cost and resources.

And if you are fed up with technology, you can try

Sales /Commercial:

- Negotiation of launch contracts with customers (satellite operators, government or institutions for scientific payloads)

- Negotiation of production contracts with potential suppliers

Attitude control

​Attitude control is controlling the orientation of an object with respect to an inertial frame of reference or another entity (the celestial sphere, certain fields, nearby objects, etc.). Controlling vehicle attitude requires sensors to measure vehicle orientation, actuators to apply the torques needed to re-orient the vehicle to a desired attitude, and algorithms to command the actuators based on sensor measurements of the current attitude and specification of a desired attitude. The integrated field that studies the combination of sensors, actuators and algorithms is called "Guidance, Navigation and Control" (GNC).

Cryogenics expert

In space, a cryogenics expert is an expert who works on cryogenics fluid (at very low temperature) used for the propulsion system of a launcher. For example, the ARIANE-5 Vulcan is a cryogenics engine. The liquid propellant are stored in the launcher tanks and fed to engine. As they chemically react and expand in the engine combustion chamber they are forced through the nozzle to provide the thrust that propels the vehicle. The most common fluid used in space application for launchers are the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

IT specialist

See Computer expert

Optical engineering

The Optical Engineer creates optical concepts for quotes and projects. He/she develops elaborated designs for optical instruments, performs analysis (tolerance,...), and writes design reports to present to the customer.

Project Manager

The Project Manager manages the technical and programmatic team. In cooperation with the program, support of contract and finance managers, he ensures that the project is performed within the requested time, costs, schedule, quality, performances, team spirit,… and above all, customer satisfaction. His/her role includes interfacing with the different disciplines (optics, mechanics, electronics,…) and ensuring that deliverables are compliant to the project specifications.

He is the interface between his company management and the customer who has granted a contract to his company, and therefore is responsible for maintaining and enhancing his company’s reputation.

Quality Engineer

The Quality Engineer is responsible for the quality assurance of the projects. He/she determines the quality norms, methods and procedures in cooperation with the Program Manager and/or System Engineer and performs quality analysis.


5 pillars of security:

Physical Security Prevents or significantly delays an unauthorised person from gaining physical access to ESA premises and specific Security Zones, as well as to sensitive or Classified Information and/or material.

Information Protection – Preparation, distribution, transmission, storage, archiving and destruction of ESA sensitive and classified documents and material

Personnel Security – Management of the process to associate a level of trust to specific individuals (staff or contractors) covering specific roles for the Agency, and in particular to obtain from National Security Authorities the Personnel Security Clearances for individuals having a “Need-To-Know” to access specific Classified Information, in order to carrying out their duties or mission

Communications and Information Systems Security (INFOSEC) – Provides protection against unauthorised access and disclosure of electronically stored and transmitted information, against the loss of integrity or availability thereof, and the assurance of transmission/delivery and authenticity of specific elements of information (known collectively as Information Assurance properties)

Business Continuity Management – A holistic management process that identifies potential threats to an organisation and the impacts to business operations they may cause, thus providing a framework for building organisational resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of key stakeholders, reputation and value-creating activities

Software engineer

The Software Engineer analyses and designs embedded as well as application software, especially for conducting Front End Electronics, electro-optical instruments, sensors and motor controllers.

Systems’ engineer

The System Engineer manages the technical aspects of the project. In cooperation with the program manager, he translates the customer’s requirements into technical specifications. His/her role includes interfacing with the different engineering disciplines (optics, mechanics, electronics,…) and ensuring that results are compliant to the project specifications.

Thermics expert

The thermal experts are usually designing thermal vacuum set-up to fit better with the various customer’s requirements in terms of:

- Limited external heat loads

- Compliance with the shroud required temperature homogeneity with adapted pipes routing

- Allowable geometrical constraint of a thermal tent

- Optimized conductive strapping for cryogenic applications (minimum achievable temperature)

- Reduction of transient phase duration

These various computations are done with standard programs like ESATANESARAD or CSL homemade software.

This engineering section is also providing thermal analyses for space instruments design or other customer needs.


Satellites withstand a very severe environment during launch. High-amplitude vibrations are observed due to acoustic loading, aerodynamics and stage/fairing separation. Once on-orbit, satellites may undergo micro-vibrations due to the rotation of reaction wheels, motion of instruments or thermo-elastic solicitations. All these sources of vibration must be properly identified and mastered using numerical predictions through finite element models and/or experimental tests.


The challenges of designing in the space domain are, on the one side, finding modern, high-quality solutions following the MAYA method (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable) which properly convey that Agency's Image (Corporate Identity and Values). On the other side, the designer must be ready to deal with customers (i.e. astronauts, scientists, top management, external partners) who have their own vision of the world and often need proposals within rather tight schedules: the role of the designer is to elaborate designs with a strong concept and a rationale behind it which can contribute to express the Space Agency (in our case, ESA's) brand also in the long term.

Wrought-iron craftsman

Wrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon content (less than 0,1%) and 1-2 % of slag (fibrous inclusions). Wrought iron can be easily worked and weld, it can stand a heavy load and it is corrosion resistant. Because of its corrosion resistance it was a favourite material for making products that were exposed to weather conditions, such as gates, railings, outdoor furniture, etc. All iron-based metals (ferrous metals) corrode, but wrought iron corrode slower than steel.

Another type of job is

Production: It is more jobs with "hands on the hardware":

- System integration engineer

- Production engineer: design of tooling’s and test equipment, design of infrastructures (building fluid and electrical supply)...

- Test engineer: performing of normal tests, and analysis of failures

For a young engineer, a good starting place is also


- The objective here is to analyze the modifications, the problems in production from an independent point of view to guarantee the acceptability of an equipment for the flight.

- You also have supplier quality engineer who verifies the product quality of the numerous suppliers, and performs audits to verify that the production is made according to the specifications.


And if you are interested by French Guiana and real launches, you may apply for a job as an operational engineer!


Acceptance, Integration and Validation are the main steps followed during the assembly of the satellite.

Operations address the mission aspects including the satellite, the control centre and the end users. They include mainly the development of the flight control procedures required to communicate with the mission planning and the data extraction.

He/is responsible for the testing and works in close cooperation with the System Engineer as from the design phase till the finalization of the project.

Computer expert

An IT specialist will have to deal with custom solutions that meet the unique operation conditions in space or in a shelter for the ground segment. Robust and creative techniques will have to be implemented to ensure a continuous good working condition for the IT equipment that is present in nearly all parts used in space communication. Often far away from a desktop, the IT specialist will have to face really great "remote" challenges in collaboration with the other teams.

Electrical engineer

The electrical engineer is in charge of designing and implementing the electronic circuitry (often a mix of hardware and software) that corresponds to the required function or functions as described in the applicable specifications at system, subsystem or equipment level.

Front End Electronics for electro-optical instruments, controllers and power supply boards are often the main applications.

He is also very often responsible for writing test specifications and procedures allowing the verification of the compliance of the design with the performance specifications, and may be requested to participate to the tests.

He/she solves hardware problems of existing instruments, and debugs and tests PCB’s.

Mechanical engineer

The Mechanical Engineer creates concepts for opto-mechanical instruments, develops mechanical designs, performs analyses (structural, thermal,…) and presents the designs to the customer.

Orbital mechanics

Orbital mechanics is concerned with the calculation of satellite orbits and is a core discipline within space mission design. It starts with the classical two-body problem which involves the satellite and the Earth assumed to be point masses. For increased accuracy, the more general problem which accounts for the non-sphericity of the Earth, the atmosphere, the other planets and the Sun, and the solar radiation pressure should be considered. Maneuvers are also of great importance as they allow the satellite to change its orbit around the Earth or to pursue an interplanetary transfer.

Propulsion and launchers Robotics

Solid propulsion technology is often used for a launcher's boosters or main stage to enable a launcher to lift off. At present, a solid rocket booster is usually made up of a steel case containing blocks of a self-burning mixture called solid propellant. When this burns the gases produced are forced through a nozzle to provide the power for liftoff. Several new solid propulsion technologies are being developed in the frame of the Vega/P80 programme to increase performance and reduce costs. These technologies include:

- monolithic carbon fiber reinforced polymer motor case 

- high performance propellant and grain design low-density internal thermal insulation nozzle using

- low-cost materials and advanced manufacturing processes

- advanced flex joints

- electro-mechanical actuators

Other technologies under development that could be used on future launch systems include:

- segmentation of carbon fiber reinforced polymer case and skirt/case connection

- development of a low-cost propellant and high energy propellants

- assessing new motor designs with respect to pressure oscillations


Space robotics is a narrow field, ideal for foresighted dreamers. As a matter of fact robotics in space is not contributing as much as it should to the space exploration. The potential is immense and, strange enough, the limitations are less than on ground (mostly robot architectures benefit from the absence of weight). Focus on rovers could lead to more possibilities (even though there aren’t so many to do)…

Satellite image processing

Satellite imagery consists of images of Earth or other planets collected by satellites. Imaging satellites are operated by governments and businesses around the world. Satellite imaging companies sell images under licence. Images are licensed to governments and businesses such as Apple Maps and Google Maps.

Satellite images have many applications in meteorology, oceanography, fishing, agriculture, forestry, landscape, geology, cartography, regional planning, education, intelligence and warfare. Images can be in visible colours and in other spectra. There are also elevation maps, usually made by radar images. Interpretation and analysis of satellite imagery is conducted using specialized remote sensing applications.

Structural engineering

The Structural Engineer is involved in the structural design and verification of spacecraft and launchers and their subsystems. His/her main objective is to ensure that the structure is strong and stiff enough to keep all systems in the design configuration, and to withstand the loads to which it is exposed, while keeping the structural design within the existing constraints on mass, volume etc. Typical applications are lightweight structures, deployable booms, study and application of advanced structural materials, mechanical analysis, configuration design, etc.


Satellite telecommunication is the most mature of space applications.

ESA's Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Directorate (TIA) is responsible for co-ordinating, shaping and supporting innovation in satellite telecommunications and for the promotion of applications that involve the combined use of space-based systems.  

ESA’s TIA Directorate includes:

- Identifying the needs of industry, satellite operators and European institutions and proposing programmes and developments that address these needs.

- Undertaking development, testing and in-orbit demonstration of new satellite systems, equipment and services.

- Ensuring that new technologies are successfully turned into products and services which are subsequently exploited by service providers and applications developers.

- Promoting standards to ensure the benefits of interoperability of systems across Europe and Canada.

- Developing space-based applications that provide solutions to the needs of European citizens and society at large.

Test engineer

Test engineer has to have deep understanding in the field of the test subject as well as deep understanding of test procedures, industry standards, and best-practices. He or she has to have knowledge of safety principles and best practices while working and performing specific tests. The test engineer also has to work with technicians in the field to prepare test articles prior to testing and coordinate with technicians to operate test facilities.

Industrial Engineer

The detailed reading and understanding of a technical documentation, the search of the root cause of a problem, finding the adequate solutions, are among the tasks of the industrial engineer. The space domain being so various that the industrial engineer is the right people that can fit the diverse skill requirements. It is also able to do the bridge between the needs of the scientists, searchers and the technical aspects of the project.


When repairs need to be made, many of the process we take for granted, including welding, are heavily complicated by the lack of gravity within a spacecraft, and the freezing, looming void of space on the other side of the wall.


Role of mechanic within the space field can involve various disciplines. Depending on the project and specific tools and technologies, mechanic would need to expand his/her field of knowledge and specialize in a specific technology in order to perform high-quality work.

Business Consultation



The Financial Accountant is concerned at one level with book-keeping i.e. recording and reconciling daily financial activities, and at a more advanced level with the preparation of the final accounts e.g. the profit and loss account and balance sheet.

The Cost Accountant is concerned with providing managers with management information such as information about costs, and forecasts of future costs and revenues. Financial information can be fed to those who require such information for decision-making and record-keeping purposes.

Accountancy in the space domain is not too different from accountancy in any other public sector as the financial laws and regulations do not change. Although as ESA is a non-profit organisation the accountancy methods are quite heavily focused on reinvesting finances. The main difference is due to high contract costs there will be a high volume of accounting journals such as prepayments to spread the cost of purchasing large amounts of materials.


Astronauts perform many tasks as they orbit Earth. The space station is designed to be a permanent orbiting research facility. Its major purpose is to perform world-class science and research that only a microgravity environment can provide. The station crew spends their day working on science experiments that require their input, as well as monitoring those that are controlled from the ground. They also take part in medical experiments to determine how well their bodies are adjusting to living in microgravity for long periods of time.

Working on the space station also means ensuring the maintenance and health of the orbiting platform. Crew members are constantly checking support systems and cleaning filters, updating computer equipment: doing many of the things homeowners must do to ensure their largest investment stays in good shape. Similarly, the Mission Control Center constantly monitors the space station and sends messages each day through voice or email with new instructions or plans to assist the crew members in their daily routines.

Commercial & Sales Engineer

As a Commercial Engineer you can deal with sales, business development and marketing activities associated to the commercial development of a firm. Based on your engineering background you can expect to be involved in complex selling processes where the products or solutions would have technical features and potential developments and evolutions to be made. This position requires a thorough understanding of the company solutions and value added and how they could be tailored to the particular needs of customers. This is a typical position for somebody willing to expand the engineering capabilities into interfacing with Customers in order to define a solution to meet their demands. A deep understanding at system level is needed plus significant creativity to propose new solutions to the market.

Education specialist

Education specialist have as objectives to:

- Motivate and enable young people to enhance their literacy & competence in sciences and technology (STEM disciplines)

- Inspire and enable young people to consider pursuing a career in the STEM field, in the space domain in particular

- Contribute to increase youngsters’ awareness of the importance of space research, exploration and applications in modern society and economy.

For pupils and teachers space is used a context while for university students it is used as a subject.

Education specialists develop formal and informal education material and coordinate hands-programmes and training sessions.

Philosopher/Ethics expert Sales officer Space history expert

The odyssey of space is very recent adventure with the aim of reaching planets and moons, then exoplanets, stars,… The history of astronautics -science & technology- related to the development of space systems, manned spaceships and exploration probes – started in late 1957 with the Soviet launches of the first two Sputniks. Did you know that the rocket which launch Sputniks is still in operational service?

We have to remember the key achievements concerned the race to the Moon during the 1060’s for USSR/Russia and USA, and the autonomy in space for Europe during 1970’s… It is important to keep the memoirs of what has been done by audacious pioneers without using fax, PC, internet… Did you know that the first steps of Man on the Moon have been achieved in less than 100 months! The historians have to review the role of politicians and the importance of public funding to challenge the high risks on reaching a new world.

Policy expert

The development and implementation of international space policy needs to be elevated to a higher level of political attention.

Cooperation in space science, space applications and space exploration can serve as a powerful counterbalance to the forces dividing the peoples of the world. A higher political visibility would enhance the significance of space in strengthening relationships among nations, as well as provide the political underpinning for a strong vibrant space agenda for global space projects in the twenty-first century.

Administrative assistant

In space, the administrative assistant works for engineers, technicians, managers,...

She/he manages the calendar of the people she/he is working for. As they have to travel a lot, she/he organises meetings and business trips for them by booking the flights, train tickets, hotels,...

She/he is also in charge of typing and reviewing documents (technical or more general), taking minutes of official meetings, create presentations,...

She/he has the chance to work in an environment where she/he has contacts with a lot of people coming from various horizons and from different nationalities.

Business & management: consultant, market analyst, contract officer

Consultant in the space business: you would be able to cover aspects related to the competitiveness of the space technologies and services and make recommendations on how the strategy and positioning of a company in space would have to be shaped in order to tackle the company challenges in a particular domain. This can as well cover business innovation in the space sector where a company is today with the view to seek new opportunities. This job requires a global view and deep understanding of the sector where the company operates. Typically this is a position available in consulting companies that offer these services to companies in the space domain. This requires being well organised, a strategic thinker and also a dose of creativity.

Market Analyst: As a Market Analyst you would be in charge of carrying out market research activities in the space sector in several domains what would lead to have a key understanding of the market dynamics and evolutions. The results of your studies would be key for planning purposes and strategy definition. Your job would consists of filtering out the huge data available and presenting in a concise a meaningful manner so that decisions could be taking. This position typically involve the analysis of competitors, pricing, products, technologies and their relative positioning and market share so that informed decisions could be taking, involving the preparation of forecasts. This requires paying deep attention to detail and an important analytic skill.

Contract Officer: As a Contract Officer you will be in charge of the legal contractual matters associated to the relationships between your company and the external companies (Customers, providers, suppliers, subcontractors, etc.). This role involves the definition of Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), Memorandums of Understanding (MoU), Teaming Agreements and contracts where the conditions about the work to be done and the responsibilities of each party are fixed. This involves the negotiation of these deals in support to commercial, strategy and other areas of the company. Typically the Contract Officer is in charge of specific projects in which he also supervises the evolution of the contracts (Change Notices). This requires a deep knowledge of the law and a combination of analytical skills with important doses of forward thinking to identify potential risks and depict scenarios in order to define the right contractual measures to cover the associated liabilities.

Communication and/or outreach Officer

Reaching out to the general public and to special audiences such as the younger generations, decision makers in academia, government or industry, or to journalists, is an important mission of many space-related organisations.

The messages transmitted often have to do with the benefits of investing in space activities, and their impact on the advancement of knowledge, on tangible benefits for the quality of life of citizens (meteorology, communications, navigation, environment, security, etc.).

Professionals involved in space communications and outreach can have a variety of backgrounds, including journalism, science communication, marketing and communications, multimedia production, event management, etc.

Representative to European Union

Relations with the Institutions of the EU, in particular the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council Secretariat, but also the national permanent representations to the EU.

Trough information, contacts and relations this office represents ESA’s interests (Space R&D at European intergovernmental level). We support and try to influence all kind of EU initiative on Space at policy and programmatic level and we look for the best possible cooperation with the EU Institutions.

Space international cooperation expert Space lawyer

A space lawyer is a legal professional who analyses and applies national and, where applicable, international and European rules on the activities of private companies and other players active in spacefaring. These include rules on liability and insurance of telecommunication operators, satellite interference and the admissibility of data gathered by satellites. Activities currently being developed and requiring the application of existing and new legal rules on spacefaring include suborbital flights and cyber security.


You need to be familiar with the space vocabulary in at least two languages as well as the basic technologies and concepts in order to deliver a high-quality translation.

Tips & Tricks

The Switch to Space team has prepared an exclusive document “Tips & Tricks” about the space sector in Belgium, main players, potential employers, work opportunities and more…

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