With the announcement recently that Australia is set to have its own space station, there will be plenty of exciting job opportunities on offer for those with a hankering for an extraterrestrial career. The Federal Government is set to invest in the venture, keeping as much of that spending as possible in Australia. And that means jobs.
“This is really [a question] of how do we set the scene for developing a space industry in Australia?” said Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinis. So, what employment prospects can today’s space-age students expect?
It may be the most obvious pick of the bunch, but who hasn’t had that dream? A successful astronaut candidate is likely to get top marks in fields like Engineering, Biological or Physical Science, Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics. Moreover, you’ll also need to have a pilot’s licence, or at least some training in the air. While working on the Australian space station might not be as competitive as getting a gig with NASA—where tens of thousands apply for just a handful of spots—you’ll need to be in the elite class, both mentally and physically.
Space suit designer
Have some flair for functional wear? Well, those who are studying in areas like design might find themselves pinning up suits for the big boys and girls to go spacewards. Suit designers are needed to bring together all the ergonomical aspects of space wear with issues of comfort and adaptability. For instance, suits need to fit into the tight compartments of the vessel itself, all the while being comfortable and flexible.
All those hours, days, weeks and months in space can take their toll. Away from family, eating weird food, under stress and constantly under scrutiny, those onboard a space station require constant mental support and guidance. A station psychologist can expect to be administering support towards the mental health of space workers, both on and off-site.
With the abundance of information needed to get a space station up and running, there’s a need for someone to make it happen, and to keep it there. Those with great degrees in all forms of Software Engineering, Programming and Software Design can be engaged to help shape the reams of data into workable forms, and to then send it out to do its job. And when something doesn’t compute, it’s these professionals that gain the spotlight if the “Houston we have a problem” moment happens to roll about.
The inner and outer workings of all that space hardware need the sharp brains and technical expertise of a whole range of engineering experts. For every stage of the process—from the making of the station itself—to the launch and the time it spends in orbit, engineers are plotting, planning and designing. They’re also working away in the research of new materials and how they can be applied to the rigours of space.
Writers and creatives
It’s one thing to get the space station up there and running, but it’s another to let the world know about it. Various creatives are often required to pull together the narratives of the space station to let the public know the latest news. From writing up media and info packages, to filling websites with content, or capturing the visual and audio experiences, creatives are an important part of the team.
Smells on space missions are vitally important because without fresh air to whisk away any unpleasant odours, it becomes important to smell test everything before deploying it for space station action. Someone with a background in chemicals is likely to be the winner here, as they will need to detect possible toxic scents that may cause problems for those in isolation aboard the station. Presumably, you’ll also need a very good nose.
Credit: Open Universities Australia