Space exploration industries
Physics degrees holders make up the majority of employees in the space exploration, satellite and affiliated research industries.
Typically, physicists and aeronautical engineers are expected to apply scientific principles to the research, design and development of advanced satellite and space technologies.
Those working in the area usually specialise in a particular field, but generic tasks might include investigating the use of new materials and technologies and finding a practical application; problem solving in the design process; and measuring and improving the performance of cutting-edge vehicles and technology.
Companies and organisations that recruit physics graduates include:
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Pioneers in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research
- The European Space Agency (ESA)
An European intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space
- British Telecom
BT has a growing satellite communications arm
- BAE Systems
A premier global defence, security and aerospace company
- Surrey Satellite Technologies Ltd (SSTL)
Specialists in both small satellite platform technology and high and medium resolution imagers
Designs and builds satellites
Designs and builds satellite technology
A designer and manufacturer of mission-control systems
Other sources of information include:
- The International Space University
Students can either participate in a two month space studies programme or a one year master's course
- British National Space Centre
Coordinates UK civil space activities and supports academic research
- Space Technologies - Opportunities for physicists (Member sign-in required) (PDF, 1 MB). This booklet provides an overview of the space technologies sector, describes the career opportunities, profiles physicists in the sector, contains details of companies in the industry and useful tips on gaining employment.
If you would like to learn more about space science, a Master's course will give you more specialised knowledge and can improve your employability. There's more advice about finding suitable courses in the further study section.
Do you want to spend your working life on the final frontier? Why not find out more about how one physicist broke into the industry?
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last edited: January 11, 2017