What Does a Spacecraft Engineer Do?

Aerospace engineers design and test aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and missiles according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, they may oversee manufacturing of these products and systems.

Astronautical engineers design and construct spacecraft, the vehicles astronauts use to explore what remains mostly uncharted areas of space. This work can be both challenging and rewarding.

Designing Spacecraft

As their name implies, spacecraft engineers specialize in designing and engineering the same vehicles used by astronauts to explore our vast universe. Additionally, these professionals research, test and modify materials used in these vehicles so they can withstand extreme cold, extreme heat and high levels of radiation found out there.

Students might use butter and a planet simulation box as a task setter to design systems to protect it from the extreme temperatures found on Mercury or Venus, for instance. Spacecraft engineers must consider payload requirements when designing spacecraft – this might include scientific instruments (cameras and telescopes), cargo or even people. They are responsible for developing concepts to meet objectives using supercomputer simulations before overseeing its construction from launch through on-orbit maintenance of spacecrafts.

Building Spacecraft

Building a spaceship requires much more than simply purchasing and following instructions for a kit. When building an intergalactic ship that will travel billions of miles through space, its design must take into account various unique forces found out there.

Astronautical engineers must build structures that can withstand launch, orbital maneuvers and possible reentry; radiation, cold temperatures and microgravity.

Space engineers are responsible for designing the electronics needed to run and control a spacecraft, such as printed circuit boards that power it and automated flight systems that direct its instruments.

NASA and other federal agencies employ many space engineers who specialize in designing and constructing spaceships, but there are also a growing number of smaller private companies working towards privatized space travel and other advancements in aerospace technology that seek talented spacecraft engineers for hire. These organizations may offer attractive employment opportunities.

Testing Spacecraft

Engineers make the impossible possible – be it sending a probe to an asteroid, building communication satellites that facilitate our access to the Internet or developing technology that helps astronauts operate spacecraft while in space. They are responsible for launching spacecraft, landing rovers on Mars and creating technology to assist astronauts operating these vehicles during spaceflight.

Testing a spacecraft involves both theoretical and hands-on work. Acoustic testing uses speakers connected together to emit noise similar to what will be experienced during launch; although it might sound similar to rock concerts, the sound coming out is actually just an artificial noise mimicking its effects.

Astronautical engineers make up the largest subfield of spacecraft engineering professionals, using their expertise to design, fabricate and test aircraft or spacecraft such as satellites, planetary probes, rockets and space stations. They typically work for aerospace product and parts manufacturers as well as federal governments or engineering services; bachelor degrees in aeronautical or astronautical engineering provide basic knowledge.

Maintaining Spacecraft

Aerospace engineers work for airlines, defense organizations and government agencies to design advanced aircraft, spacecraft and missiles as well as providing solutions for satellite communication, planet exploration and space travel.

Utilizing modern materials, they develop components safe for use in outer space. Furthermore, professionals conduct extensive research to discover which combinations of materials provide maximum resistance against cold, heat and intense radiation found there.

Mechanical, aerospace and spacecraft engineers are responsible for researching, designing, building and testing equipment used in space missions. Additionally, they investigate equipment failures as well as redesigning mechanical systems to increase performance.

Aerospace research engineers evaluate designs to ensure they comply with engineering principles while prioritizing safety and setting quality standards. They conduct wind tunnel tests, structural analyses and flight simulations on prototypes for assessment purposes as well as maintenance and repairs for these devices. Furthermore, these engineers must possess knowledge of complex electrical systems, avionics and control systems.

Scroll to Top