Space systems engineers design, construct and test aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, satellites and equipment.
Space systems engineers are responsible for making sure that all of the subsystems in a spacecraft work together so that the spacecraft meets its objectives. They are part of the spacecraft program lifecycle from start to finish, including designing, building, testing, and, sometimes, deploying the spacecraft. Space systems engineers have a technical understanding of all of the subsystems involved in a spacecraft, including the structural and electrical systems, thermal control, power, and communication.
Most space systems engineers are senior engineers with a number of years of experience in the space industry. Space systems engineers also typically have an area of special expertise, such as:
- Guidance and control
- Optical systems
- Thermal systems
The minimum study requirement to work as a space systems engineer is typically a relevant undergraduate degree in engineering. Some employers may have further requirements, such as postgraduate qualifications or research in a particular specialty.
The following universities offer undergraduate study options specifically related to the space industry which may be relevant to becoming a space systems engineer:
- RMIT University’s Bachelor of Space Science
- Swinburne University's Space Technology minor, which is available to undergraduate students in any degree
- The University of Sydney’s Space Engineering stream, which is available to undergraduate Aeronautical, Mechatronic and Mechanical Engineering students
- UNSW@ADFA’s Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering (Honours)
Degrees in the following study areas may also be relevant to becoming a space systems engineer:
- Aeronautical Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- Electrical/Electronics Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Mechatronics Engineering
- Robotics Engineering
- Systems Engineering
- Telecommunications Engineering
Almost all universities in Australia offer degrees in engineering. Visit individual university websites for more information.
At the postgraduate level, the following courses may be relevant to becoming a space systems engineer:
- The International Space University’s Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program, which forms the first part of the University of South Australia’s Graduate Certificate of Space Studies
- UNSW@ADFA’s Master of Space Operations
- UNSW@ADFA’s Master of Space Engineering
- UNSW’s Master of Engineering Science (Satellite Systems Engineering)
- UNSW’s Master of Engineering Science (Space Systems Engineering)
Postgraduate qualifications by coursework or research in relevant areas of engineering may also support a career in space systems engineering.