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Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.
We asked Elva Bannon from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:
I found having education in a number of different areas of engineering to be beneficial to the work I am doing.
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|Employers indicate that there is a shortage of workers in the following occupations in this sector at the moment.
|Astronomer / Astrophysicist|
|Engineer - Electrical|
|Engineer - Electronic|
|Engineer - Mechanical|
|Engineer - Software|
|Engineer - Telecommunications|
|Statistician / Statistician EU|
More information on skills shortages can be found in the Labour Market Informationsection of this site.
|The following are occupations commonly found in this career sector. Click on the titles for detailed information. View All|
|9 courses found|
|19 courses found|
|Science / Applied Science|
|The following Apprenticeships can be found in this career sector. Click on the titles for detailed information.|
For many people, a career in the space industry means the exciting job of becoming an astronaut and making trips to outer space, but this futuristic sector contains a lot more opportunities.
The space industry is dominated by scientists and engineers who want to play a part in the growing space science and technology sector. On offer is a vast array of opportunities that cover many different specialist disciplines. Behind the scenes, there are also a substantial number of managers, administrators and technical service staff.
The majority of employees working in this field have an undergraduate degree, and many have studied at postgraduate level, but not all.Photo: ESA Astronaut Tim Peake in Cupola
|Tim Peake graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1992 as an officer in the Army Air Corps. He became a helicopter flying instructor in 1998 before being selected for a post with the US Army, flying Apache helicopters. In 2005 he graduated from the Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS) in the UK. He received a degree in flight dynamics and evaluation in 2006. Tim was the senior Apache test pilot and was also the Squadron Training Officer. He has logged over 3000 hours flying time on more than 30 types of helicopter and fixed wing aircraft. He was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009 have applied to an advert that asked 'Do you wnat to become an astronaut?'.|
There are many specialised fields in which a person who is interested in space can embark, and have an exciting and challenging career.
Typically, workers have STEM backgrounds - in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths, or a qualification in a related area, such as law or business is also desired.
Job roles in the space industry cover a wide range of specialisations: mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, communications and systems engineers.
Mechanical and materials engineers develop the 'hardware' required for space science and exploration. This would include the equipment and technology needed. Electronic or systems engineers develop the 'software' that is essential to run this equipment and ensure that they are working correctly.
Maths is at the core of a number of these roles, especially in the analysis of the large amounts of data produced by space instruments and in calculating the orbits of space vehicles.
Ireland is a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) and has a large role to play in the space programmes of Europe.
Read 'Ireland's Space Endeavours' from Enterprise Ireland.
Irish companies take part in numerous European wide space programmes involving all areas of space science and technology. The space sector here employs over 1,000 people and this is expected to increase with the number of companies in the Irish space market likely to grow in the coming years. Surprisingly, the space industry is one of the few industries in Ireland which has continued to grow, despite recent economic circumstances.Over 70 Irish companies and research groups have secured an estimated €70m in ESA development contracts over the past ten years and this number is expected to grow significantly in the next three years.
|A full list of companies in the Irish Space Sector is available here from Enterprise Ireland.|
|Did you know ...
Ireland boasts the largest national astronomy club in the world relative to population aptly named "Astronomy Ireland," who aims to promote astronomy, space interest and education through talks, lectures, observing sessions and other events nationwide.
Find out more about Astronomy Ireland here.
Launching a satellite into space to orbit the earth, or a probe to visit another celestial body, remains a huge challege for space science, despite the major progress that has been achieved in recent decades.
Several families of rockets have been developed (i.e. Soyuz, Ariane, Atlas, Delta) and satellites have become the essential platform for space research. They are launched into different orbits, depending on their mission - to function as communication, earth observation, navigation or positioning technologies.
Space technology is the area where the tools and equipment required to explore the far reaches of the universe are developed. For example, spacecraft structures, mechanisms, and launcher propulsion, thermal control technology, environment control, life support technology, robotics and optics.
This is an innovative and exciting career area. It is at the cutting edge of new technologies. New developments in information technologies, computing power and molecular research into materials are all contributing to rapidly advancing these technologies. Manufacturing technology for the sector is leaping forward with developments such as 3D printing or 'Additive manufacturing' which is currently under study in several space agencies and related industrial producers. These technologies have been tested in the space sector to produce models and prototypes. Space agencies and industry are looking at integrating these capacities into industrial processes, testing different metal alloys to build parts and create new equipment.
Technologies are usually developed to respond to specific needs. However, once they are developed, they may have multiple uses. Over the years, technologies developed in the space sector have found their way into sectors as diverse as health and medicine, transportation, manufacturing practices and materials, and computer technologies. For example, air purification systems in hospital intensive care wards started out as space technologies; radar surveying of tunnel rock is now used to improve safety for miners; enhanced materials developed for use in space are now used in a variety of sporting products, from racing yachts, to sports shoes. Ultrasound and cardiac imaging both derived from camera technologies onboard NASA earth survey satellites.
Developers work on increasingly complex system architectures. Whole new classes of missions for navigation, communications, remote sensing and scientific research for both civilian and military purposes, are being designed in universities, research centres and industry.
All of these developments bring together a diverse range of skills and qualifications. This is an attractive career sector for people who are curious, creative and inventive and who like excitement and innovation. The sector is home to many highly-skilled professionals, mainly technicians, scientists and engineers.
The range of technology disciplines required can be quite wide, depending on the specific area of activity - mechanical, mechatronic electronic, electrical, biomedical, communications and software engineering, as well as basic science subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology and maths - all are valuable skills in this area.
Applied Mathematics & Data Processing
Careers in the space sector utilise the skill of mathematical analysis in a practical environment, to identify problems and engineer solutions in space programme development. This is necessary to support the work of all divisions in the Space Science and Technology sector to ensure the smooth running of every project.
Science and Engineering roles in the space industry cover a wide range of specialisations, for example, mechanical, electrical, communications and systems engineers. Mechanical and materials engineers develop the hardware required for space science and exploration. This would include the equipment and technology needed.
The space sector is a technology intensive industry, and the work that is carried out is highly specialised. Companies in Ireland are involved in the areas of electronics, aerospace, structures, materials, hardware and software, all of which are integral components needed for space programmes.
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