Last updated March 28, 2018 at 1:29 pm
One of the big benefits to Australia getting a space agency will be a boom in the number of jobs in the space industry. But space is not just astronauts – there’ll be a range of opportunities opening up.
If you want a job in the space industry, there is a lot more to it than being an astronaut. And globally, an industry worth US$400 billion generates a lot of employment for engineers, mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists, doctors – even lawyers who are devising a regulatory regime covering all of our activities in space.
At least 900,000 people are employed in the space industry around the world in a range of areas from public administration, the space manufacturing industry, direct suppliers of components to this industry, and the space services sector – mainly commercial satellite telecommunications.
Then there are the universities and research institutions developing the innovations that will drive the future of space exploration and travel.
In Australia, the economic output of the space industry is estimated to be around $4 billion – a tiny 0.8 per cent of the global industry. And yet the sector employs a direct workforce of around 10,000.
The establishment of the space agency is expected to dramatically increase that employment.
Since the Canadian Space Agency was set up in 1990, for example, it has captured 2 per cent of the global space market and now has a direct workforce of 24,300. What’s more, the sector delivers an incredible growth in jobs at six times the national rate.
And that is direct employment, there are many new job opportunities created as space capabilities help transform existing industries.
Here are just some of the STEM fields that are in hot demand.
The space industry requires a lot of engineers in every segment of the profession that you can think of. They are required to design and test equipment used in aerospace launches and the complex explosive fuels that drive a rocket into orbit. Some of the areas where specialist engineering skills are required are avionics; computers; materials engineering, robotics and telecommunications.
Research careers in the space industry cover pretty much every field you can think of, from astrophysics to geology. Biologists, chemists, meteorologists and even geologists run experiments in space and program satellites that play important roles in life on Earth. One growth area is in image analysis, known traditionally as geospatial analysis – quite literally making sense of the reams of data of our land, ocean and air from the satellites above.
Technicians and Tradesmen
All the scientist and engineers in the world would not keep us in space without an army of skilled technicians and tradesmen working with them, making their designs and experiments a reality. Some of the specialists are communications technicians, electricians, precision welders, radar technicians, robotics technicians and computer analysts.
And who knows where jobs in the space industry could take you. Meet, for example, Andrea Boyd, who followed her childhood dream in country Australia to become an engineer, to become a Flight Controller for the European Space Agency.