This week we are celebrating some of the unsung heroes of space exploration, while taking a look at some of the lesser known careers available in both the UK, and international space industries.
Kim, Claire and Angela – the Space Crafters
The delicate instrumentation on board a space craft needs to be protected from extremes of temperature. One of the ways that this is achieved is with the use of multi-layered-insulation, or MLI. This reflective, blanket-like material must be individually tailored to each spacecraft. And since keeping weight low is key to keeping launch costs down, everything must be hand-made and precision weighed.
Such a complex and delicate craft requires a very specific skill set, and so the MLI team at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories (RAL) Space laboratories come from a crafting background!
Angela Ashill, Claire Morgan and Kim Morgan brought the skills they had developed previously in their roles as radiographers, craft business owners and childminders to the delicate and precise job of measuring, cutting and constructing space blankets, all while working in a clean room!
The Space Lawyer
Space is a multi-national, high tech industry that is constantly pushing the frontiers of not only what we understand, but of what we as a species are capable of. And with new frontiers comes the need for new legal practices to make sure that everything is conducted in a safe and consistent way.
Joanne Wheeler, MBE, is a pioneering leader in the new and developing area of space law. Director of Alden Legal, a specialist law firm advising the satellite, space communications and applications industries, she specialises in satellite and space regulation and policy. A trailblazer in her field, space law was not really known as a career option when she embarked on her law career. However, following three years with the European Space Agency, as well as representing the UK at United Nations space meetings, Joanne is leading the way in this new and exciting field.
The Professional Alien Hunter
Kennda Lynch is an Astrobiologist for NASA. Having initially trained as an engineer, a wider interest in biology, and a chance conversation with a leading astrobiologist at the time, led Kennda on a path to becoming an astrobiologist. Astrobiology is the study of life on Earth, how it exists, why it exists, and where it could exist off our own planet. In order to better understand the possibilities of life on other worlds, and to help us predict where we should look to find it, astrobiologists study the most extreme environments on Earth that are similar to other places in the Solar System. Kennda spends a lot of her time conducting experiments to look for microbes in a valley basin in Utah. She takes what she has learned from this and then looks to develop experiments that could be conducted on Mars to look for similar simple life forms.
So, there are just three lesser known, exciting and vital jobs within the space industry. Space Exploration is a team effort and needs a huge range of people with an even bigger range of skills and knowledge. If you can think of a job in everyday life, there is a space equivalent! And every single person helps to further our understanding of, and exploration of, the Universe.