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Getting Involved In The Space Industry

Posted by: Tomomomo - Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:44 am
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Getting Involved In The Space Industry 
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Post Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:44 am
Hello Everyone!

I'm trying to get into the space industry, I live in the UK and am completing an access course to continue onto to university to do astrophysics, (the access course is an accepted qualification).

I was wondering if anybody would mind sharing experience of trying to breach the industry. What were your ideas? where did you start? what are you currently doing? anything you can share would be gratefully received and help me out a lot!

Thanks again,

Tom


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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Sat Sep 28, 2013 4:46 pm
Ironically, astrophysics really isn't in the "space industry", the same way that astronomers aren't. They are customers of it and sometimes they drive projects, but by and large AP is more towards the pure research, "navel gazing" than the nuts and bolts of launching and operating things in space. If you want to be an academic who gets to think about space and write papers about why galaxies are the way they are, great! But if you want to be around rockets and stuff, then some flavor of "mundane" engineering degree would be much more helpful.

That said, there ARE astrophysics PhDs who land jobs in aerospace, but they usually aren't using their core training, and they have other talents or experience. They are project managers, mathematicians, and quite a few astronauts have AP degrees (mostly because they are like college athletes getting "sports medicine" degrees, because they have to have something, so they get doctorates that they are interested in and looks good on their resumes).

I hope that helps.


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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:18 am
A degree in Aerospace is a good idea. But! Most of the guy's building spacecraft have Mechanical Engineering degrees and Electronic Engineering degrees. If you like programming there's plenty of room there.

It really all depends on what you want to do Build/Design things like that? There are openings for all fields including management and PR and everything else including space law!

Figure out what your the very best at! Get a degree in that and go find a job doing it in the aerospace industry.

Monroe

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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:22 pm
Right, astrophysics is cool, but it's about stars and galaxies, not about rockets and satellites. You'll want to do something like aeronautical engineering, electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering.

For a few British examples: the main innovation of Reaction Engines Ltd. is their intercooler, which is all about mechanical engineering (making it strong and light enough) and thermal engineering (cooling down the incoming air enough without frosting things up). Bloodhound SSC is essentially a rocket-powered supersonic aeroplane that flies at ground level, and its design is a lot of mechanical engineering and aerodynamics (computational fluid dynamics). Building it involves lots of welding and carbon fibre construction. And of course there's electronics involved in the control of the various engines and in the cockpit.

So, look in those directions. Unless you're really interested in stars (Plasma physics! Spectroscopy!) and galaxies (Gravity! The Big Bang!), in which case by all means go study astrophysics! Whatever you choose, have fun!

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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:20 am
It depends on what you actually want to do, and what your "circumstances" are.

For instance I also would like to get involved with the industry, my options are very limited though.

I am failing at broadening my options quite successfully at the moment. :D

I can see 2 "mainstream" pathways, one is through business, the other one is through engineering.

You either make some money with a business then you invest it into an already existing company within the industry or you start your own, or you become a good engineer and apply to work at a company within the industry.

Actually all these companies need lawyers, accountants, cleaners etc...so you can get in through those side doors as well. It depends on what you want to do. Clean hangars, build stuff, or count money.

My "pet" alternative approach is through crowdfunding/sourcing, makerspace projects, and small startups like SolarSystem express.

Look up SpaceGAMBIT. That one is a good example of trying to do something if you don't have large sums of money but have some know how and can build things in your spare time.

Also could go to moonmars.com, it's a small social networking site trying to get something off the ground that is "crowd based".

There are others like Mach30 for instance.

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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:33 am
Hi guys,

Thanks for the responces, they have been really useful!! I think that my main problem is that there is so much I want to do I'm struggling refining it into a single coherent pathway. From what I've learned from you guys and from other sources is that much more thought is required and not get ahead of myself!

I have a million ideas and no real way to express them/see if they've been done or are even in the process of being done :/


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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:36 am
Thinking about it, would anybody have any ideas of volunteering opportunities in the UK? a practical approach may be wise


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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:12 pm
You need to decide which/what you want to do? Astronomy/astrophysics? Or Space launch hardware/operations? They really are separate worlds, not much overlap.

Maybe noodle around and see if there are any internships or volunteer efforts available. Rob does a pretty good job of listing here the grass roots space activities in the UK. Maybe see if they want any help?


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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:14 pm
Tomomomo wrote:
Hi guys,

Thanks for the responces, they have been really useful!! I think that my main problem is that there is so much I want to do I'm struggling refining it into a single coherent pathway. From what I've learned from you guys and from other sources is that much more thought is required and not get ahead of myself!

I have a million ideas and no real way to express them/see if they've been done or are even in the process of being done :/


They most likely have been thought of, attempted, or are being worked on as we speak.

Unless you specialise in a field, and are up to date within that field with current developments, no matter what "idea" you have the chances are someone who is more well versed in that field have either already thought of and tested that idea to some extent, or are already working on it to make it reality.

I think the key to success is not wether you are being original with your idea, or if it has been done before, but wether you can produce a prototype and then a viable product while also managing to improve on the solutions available to the problem you are addressing.

Take SpaceX for example. They took rocketry, improved on how rockets are designed, built, and operated and are well on the way towards reducing the cost of accessing space.

Regarding expressing ideas:
Just share your ideas and see what others think, also some might be able to direct you towards more information regarding the subject, or share their insight.

Having ideas is easy, making them into something real is the hard part. :D

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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:28 pm
Right. The aforementioned BloodhoundSSC take volunteers for their education project, but on the engineering side they want experienced personnel. Quite understandable considering that they're creating a whole new kind of machine on a small budget, and lives are on the line.

Copenhagen Suborbitals are an all-volunteer organisation, but they're in Denmark. If you want to get some ideas about what's involved in all this aerospace stuff, you could do worse than to watch their Youtube channel by the way, they make a big deal of communicating well and explaining all the science and technology, and their videos are awesome.

Another option would be a university lab, they have open days and such where they show around prospective students. If you're in secondary school, maybe you can arrange to do a project in this direction at a university lab? Be (politely) persistent if you're going to contact people, typically university researchers are happy to support enthusiastic students, but they're also usually extremely busy, so don't give up if you don't get a response right away.

Come to think of it, I think the Cambridge University Eco Racing solar race team could use some help fixing up their car and/or designing a new one for next year...

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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:13 pm
If you are doing a course the link below might be of some interest

http://ukseds.org/about/

And you could write on spec to Reaction engines to see if they want any unpaid interns i think they are based in Oxford somewhere near Abingdon iirc

I think the Bristol SEDs has had a conference this year so their Rockoon project maybe active.

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Post Re: Getting Involved In The Space Industry   Posted on: Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:13 am
Last time I posted on this forum I was two years into a Bachelor of Advanced Science with Physics.
This year I'm finishing off units and have been provisionally (on my graduation) accepted into a Masters in Aerospace Engineering (Space). I'm aiming to work in space technology, so that's the direction I have taken.

I'm probably going to look into going into the military and research and development for aircraft after that so that I can get project experience among other things.

This is the avenue that I am taking to work in space technology, but also keep my options open to attempt to follow a path to become an astronaut.

Physics degrees are great because you can usually also take astrophysics subjects, and engineering ones if they are available, along with your physics and maths units. You'll also definitely want to do programming at some point. We all use computer modelling and being able to program will be invaluable in any physics/astrophysics/engineering field.

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