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Aerospace Jobs

  1. Jul 31, 2006 #1
    I was just wondering what kind of jobs that people have gotten with Aerospace Engineering... I would like to get a research and development job when I get out with at least my masters, although I might go ahead and get my Doctorate. What my ultimate goal is to be able to make traveling in space like star trek :smile:

    I guess what my main question is what is the % of being able to work on space stations/ spacecraft? If anyone has an idea I would be glad to hear them. I would think this % would change over time depending on technology and if there is a race for space again (crossing my fingers hoping)… but just wondering what the % is now.

    On a side note it really annoys me that politics gets in the way of space exploration.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2006 #2
    well I don't think that nasa is hiring to many people right now, as they are in the process of cutting projects.

    However there are a bunch of private space companies out there now that are doing pretty well.

    to name a few

    Bigelow (just launched a test module for their private space station)
    Virgin Galactic

    whoever made spaceshipone
  4. Jul 31, 2006 #3
    That would be Scaled Composites.

    Have you thought about the 'aeronautical' field of aerospace or just the 'astronautical?'
  5. Aug 1, 2006 #4
    I am interested in aeronautical also, but not as much as astronautical. I do like the idea of working with wind tunnels doing aerodynamic research. Actually I really haven't found anything I don't like in the Aerospace Engineering field.
  6. Aug 3, 2006 #5

    I don't think a known % exists for what you are asking about at least on a national basis. "work on space stations/ spacecraft" is a little too broad of a category as I would say the vast majority of aerospace engineers who work on astronautical type projects work on spacecraft in some aspect. At least this is based on my experience with my colleagues and friends from university.

    If you are referring to manned spacecraft specifically then obviously the percentage is somewhat smaller since there are more limited opportunities but there are robotic missions with unmanned spacecraft like what JPL does, commercial satellites, scientific satellites by NASA (many programs in this area have been or ill be cut back like another poster said but most will still exist at some level), DoD satellites etc... Plus there are huge ranges of job types and responsibilities within aerospace, there are software people, avionics specialists, mission planners, mission operators, those that specialize in guidance navigation and control systems, power systems, thermal, structures, the list is pretty long so "working" on a manned spacecraft contains another large range of job types and what you actually work on varies widely depending on your job area, responsibilities, specialties, interests..... Finding what you really like in aerospace will give you a better idea of what you want to work on and that will lead to the jobs you might want to apply for once you graduate.

    I take it from what you say that you are interested in manned spaceflight with the space station, shuttle etc... Out of my school (including myself) roughly 10 people I knew very well at University were hired either at contractors to NASA or at NASA in Houston about 5 years ago. This does not include other people who were hired down here as well that I never knew. Many others I was good friends with were hired by JPL, KSC, etc... Although I am not sure I know of any statistics like a percentage of people with aerospace degrees in the US working on manned spaceflight missions judging by the fact that a good majority of my friends ended up with positions working on manned spaceflight projects in some aspect, I'd say the odds that you can work on such projects are pretty good.

    As far as what type of job do you get it depends on what field you specialize in within aerospace/astronautical engineering. I came out of school with a AE masters emphasis in orbital mechanics which put me in a position to obtain a job relating to mission planning and guidance, navigation and control systems for spacecraft. Personally, I currently work building software simulations to analyze and develop the flight dynamic systems and flight software for the next generation manned spaceflight vehicle. Some of my friends support shuttle missions, others support systems on-board the international space station, some are astronaut trainers, etc... So I'd say there are a good number of job opportunities in manned spaceflight and hopefully will be for some time to come once you will be ready to start your job hunt.​
  7. Aug 4, 2006 #6
    wow thanks for the information. I am glad I got to get some feed back from someone that is actually working in the field. So do you work for NASA? How do you like orbital mechanics? It sounds really interesting. I am really interested in Propulsion... I also think it would be neat to work with gravity research in order to let astronauts stay in space for a longer period of time without muscle and bone deterioration. I saw some pictures of the design of the next generation of space crafts; I like the idea of them having 2 different types inorder to go to the moon and space station. It is probably going to save a ton of money on fuel. I can't wait until I get into the research field. I have some ideas I would like to try, although I don't have the knowledge of how to research them now but by the end of college I think I should. Thanks again for giving me information about the jobs, I was really wondering how many they actually have out there with all the buget cuts that are going around in the government.
  8. Aug 7, 2006 #7
    Yes, I worked for a contractor to NASA for about 5 years and was just hired
    last month by NASA. I like orbital mechanics a lot and especially as
    it applies to guidance, navigation, and control systems which is the
    area I work in currently.

    Propulsion is a great field to get into as long as you enjoy your thermodynamics classes :P
    As far as jobs go, NASA is doing some hiring now due to the new project
    coming online as we will be providing oversight to the selected
    contractor once that decision is made. The budget cuts currently are
    effecting the scientific projects at NASA because they are pushing more
    money into the human spaceflight area to hire new people like myself. I don’t
    know what the job market will be like for you, Aerospace is an extremely dynamic field
    when I first went to school it was on a severe down swing but by the time I graduated
    most of us had to fight job offers off with a stick. As long as you are prepared for that
    reality, that the job market in Aero has huge swings and turnover rate is high in most
    areas, you’ll be fine. Just remember the most important thing is to love what you do, it will
    make the enjoyable aspects of your job even sweeter and the tough aspects more bearable.
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