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Spacecraft & Satellite MFG

When asked the question, "What is a career in space?" many would answer "astronaut" or "astronomer" and there the list would end. The space industry is actually a very broad and diverse field, involving participants ranging from a variety of science and engineering streams, to farming, manufacturing, and computer technology. One could even say that the space industry is really a combination of these fields.

The Space Industry Is...

The following list was taken from the 1998 edition of The Space Publication’s Guide to Space Careers (ISBN 1-887022-05-8), written by Scott Sacknoff and Leonard David. It provides general information on the wide variety of fields available in the space industry. Although this list is a great resource to help you determine which fields of work you are perhaps better suited for, it should not be taken as a complete list of careers in space.


Telecommunications is the use spacecraft to relay data from one part of the Earth to another.

  • Cable programming distribution
  • VSAT private
  • Transmission mobile and wireless
  • International telephony
  • Messaging services
  • Direct-to-consumer video and radio

Spacecraft Manufacturing:

  • Satellites
  • Weather satellites

Launch Vehicles:

These are rockets which are used to place payloads into orbit.

  • Expendable launch vehicles
  • Space shuttle operations
  • Reusable launch vehicles

Ground Equipment:

Ground based equipment used to receive and/or transmit data to and from spacecraft.

  • Ground stations
  • Antennas
  • Computer software and hardware
  • High capacity data storage
  • Information technology
  • Electronic receiving and transmission equipment

Ground Operations:

Facility design, development, and use; monitoring and controlling spacecraft or launch vehicles.

  • Satellite operations
  • Health monitoring software
  • Component test facilities
  • Launch vehicle spaceports
  • Telemetry/control hardware and software
  • Operations planning software

Global Positioning System (GPS) Services:

A 24/7 satellite system developed by the U.S. military that provides accurate positioning data anywhere on Earth.

  • Enhanced air traffic control
  • Improved search and rescue devices
  • Directional services for cars

Remote Sensing:

The monitoring of the Earth using space-based sensors.

  • Weather prediction and forecasting
  • Searching for natural resources
  • Monitoring of the Earth’s environment
  • Use of digital terrain maps
  • Analysis of soil and land conditions
  • National security and intelligence gathering

Human Space Activities:

Activities related to the human exploration of space and the effects of long and short-duration spaceflight on the human condition.

  • International Space Station
  • Psychological research
  • Medical and physiological research
  • Space Shuttle


It is the use of the special environmental conditions of space such as low temperature and low gravity to develop materials or products.

  • Production of new/improved materials
  • Biomedical drug development
  • Enhanced crystals for biomedical research

Space Science:

The study and understand the universe including stars, planets, and interstellar materials as well as effect of the space environment on the Earth.

  • Astrophysics and astronomy
  • Cosmology
  • Astrobiology
  • Astro-dynamics

Technology Research and Development:

A number of technologies are used in various aspects of the industry.

  • Optics
  • Propulsion systems
  • Power systems
  • Thermal control
  • High-temperature materials
  • Guidance, navigation and control
  • Lasers
  • Composite materials
  • Robotics

Support Services:

  • Administrative support
  • Legal and licensing
  • Satellite, launch vehicle and in-orbit insurance
  • Technical support
  • Financial services
  • Media and publishing

Links to additional job descriptions:

Army Satellite Communication Systems Operator Maintainer
UAV Telemetry Engineer
Aircraft and Missile and Model mock up builder

Links to more Information:


Courtesy:  NASA, Boeing, LORAL, Orbital, and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne


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