Human spaceflight is one of the most amazing achievements of the 20th century and to celebrate this, the United Nations created the International Day of Human Space Flight on April 12th every year.
This date is an important anniversary for manned space flight. Not only is it on this day back in 1961, when Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin became the first human in space, aboard Vostok 1, but also the anniversary of the first launch of Challenger, the winged, reusable spacecraft, otherwise known as the Space Shuttle, in 1981.
While astronauts are the first professionals that come to mind when most people think about a career in space flight, there are numerous other employment opportunities in this field. Space flight brings together specialists in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects (STEM). It is all of the many people behind the scenes that makes space flight possible.
Engineers, scientists and technicians need to work together in multidisciplinary teams to design and build sensors and instruments to observe and monitor both the Earth and the space environment.
As well as designing spacecraft, engineers also design and build satellites and other equipment. Areas of engineering include: aerospace, computers, materials, mechanical, robotics and telecommunications.
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Some scientists choose to complete their research and development (R&D) in space science. For example, a biologist might research the effects of living in space for long durations, such as on the International Space Station (ISS).
Other areas of science might include: astrophysics, biochemistry, geoscience, meteorology or medical.
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Technicians also play a key role in the field of space science. These individuals work closely with the engineers and scientists to build, test, and perfect various types of space technology and innovations. For example, a robotic technician will have responsibilities including: testing, calibration, installation, repairs, troubleshooting, operation, and maintenance.
Other technicians might include: computer aided design (CAD), electricians and telecommunications.
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The UK Space Industry has a total income of around £15 billion and employs close to 42,000 people and the UK government has plans to increase its investment up to 2030. Now is a great time to consider a career in the space industry.