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How to get to the space industry, from here!

  1. May 6, 2009 #1
    Hi guys, I'm currently studying a BSc in physics at my countries (New Zealand) best university. The sole reason for me studying it, is to work in the space industry. And, I'd be lying if I said my ultimate goal wasn't to become an astronaut, no matter how 'unrealistic' that would be.

    I'm a dual British/NZ citizen, which makes it a bit more difficult. I don't want to work with ESA (as a stepping stone, Europe would be great, but it's not big enough. And the chances for British astronauts being selected are slim to none). So my goal at the moment would be to move to America, hopefully permanently. However, it seems like a huge distance from where I am now, and I don't really know how to start taking steps in that direction.

    So what preparations should I make in order to try and get myself over there? I doubt it will be as simple as 'graduate, hop on a plane, and look for the nearest NASA recruitment office'. I actually have no clue about how I'll land a job. Does anyone know how I will actually end up doing this?

    To be honest, my interests in space are broad. Until I was 15, I was convinced I wanted to be an astronomer, and recently I've been interested in the human/robotic space flight programs. So any jobs would be worth considering, just anything with as close links to NASA itself as I can get. I'm in my first semester of university, so anything is possible if it will help me (switching to an engineering degree, for example).

    Thanks for any advice. The rest of my life might be decided by advice you give :D
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2009 #2


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    Have you seen NASA's http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/astronauts/default.htm [Broken], in particular the section Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to apply for the Astronaut Candidate Program?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. May 6, 2009 #3
    I sure have, and that's what I meant by 'permanently'. Becoming a naturalized citizen. If you were pointing me towards the 'it is not recommended changing your citizenship to become eligible', then that's fine, they can 'not recommend' away.

    And I wouldn't be changing solely for the sake of becoming an astronaut. I know it's almost like saying 'I want to be the president', but I'd like to give it my best shot. And if I don't make it, being in the space industry is where I want to be anyway.
  5. May 6, 2009 #4


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    I would be more concerned about you already narrowing down the exact place and type of work you are determined of doing.


    Considering how fundings can change in a whim, and how things definitely will change by the time you enter the job market, you will be setting yourself up for some major disappointment if you already narrow down what you want to do without opening yourself up to the possibility of a career in other fields.

  6. May 6, 2009 #5
    I can't think about how I was being too specific. I'm studying for physics for that reason, I don't know if I want to end up with a job as an astronomer, engineering, or other jobs I haven't even heard of yet. If 'space' is too specific, then I don't know how I can get any broader.

    Then again, space is the only reason I'm studying it. I really don't want to end up working for the local environmental council, or the weather guys. If the chances for going into space industry/science are too small to aim for, then please tell me. I assumed that would be a broad enough goal to aim for.
  7. May 7, 2009 #6
    Then you should do more investigating! There are several things to consider from what you have said in this post. NASA and ESA are not the only bodies in the world that deal with space!

    There are many, many private companies that build and control satellites for various purposes, design space missions and things along those lines:

    http://www.selex-sas.com/SelexSAS/EN/index.sdo [Broken]
    http://www.astrium.eads.net/en/homepage [Broken]

    to name a couple of european options (both have good graduate programmes). These companies often collaberate with places like ESA, and Astrium for instance are building the european equivalent of the GPS system, which is going to improve on accuracy and help in a few ways. I believe I am also correct in saying that Astrium designed and built the first Mars rover.

    Otherwise, you say you're not sure if you want to be an astronomer or engineer etc., even if you do want to be an astronaut, I'm not sure what you think they actually do? Many are accomplished engineers, astrophysicists and the like. You should think about in what way you want to be involved with space work, do you mean your ultimate goal is to work with space projects, or simply to actually go to space? Lastly, ZapperZ makes a good point as usual about narrowing down your goals. It happens all too often that low level undergraduates will find something that sounds interesting and make that their only consideration, it's very easy to get stuck in a mindset of what you want to do before you actually know what the jobs will involve - and it means that areas you might otherwise have considered are neglected for no good reason. I almost went down that path myself, and realised that subjects i'd previously dismissed during my degree were actually things I'd like to consider.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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