Plan a space mission from concept to launch

Planning a space mission from its initial concept through to its design, assembly and take-off is now a reality at the University of Leicester.

The University of Leicester’s Space Exploration Systems MSc sets students up for a career in the space industry by teaching them the necessary engineering and physics skills to develop space systems and missions from initial concept through to design, assembly and verification, to launch and operations.

Dr Nigel Bannister from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy explained: “In this course, we equip students with the skills required by employers in the space industry – from a knowledge of the principal scientific and engineering concepts, to familiarity with industry-standard software, working disciplines and the special physical environments in which spacecraft are built and tested.

“Students have to work in international teams, at different locations across Europe – which is common in the space sector. It’s no surprise that our graduates find jobs in some of the world’s largest space employers, as well as in small, and medium enterprises providing specialist expertise in the sector.”

Among the students who have taken the course is a talented Master’s student from Kurdistan, who will be applying the vital skills and knowledge in space exploration they have learned at the University of Leicester back to their home country.

Azhen Jarjes, who graduated from the University of Leicester at an event on Friday 22 January, said: “I chose the University of Leicester because it offered a course that allowed me to follow my dreams, and study space exploration and mission development. Also, I was aware of the University’s work in space science and its links with the space industry.

“The course is crucial to me, not only to give me a qualification in space science but to train me in the skills needed to develop and build a real mission to space.

“I am now taking the experience I have gained at Leicester back to my home country, where I plan to start teaching a similar course in Duhok University next year, to introduce this field of science to students in Kurdistan. The Leicester MSc academics will be supporting me in that work, and we hope to increase links between our Universities in the future.”

Researchers from the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy are currently involved in a number of future space missions including the European Space Agency (ESA) ExoMars rover and the ESA Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) Mission to explore the solar system's largest planet and three of its moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

A Leicester-build instrument has been operating in space every year since 1967, and many of the insights and technologies pioneered by Leicester academics during these missions have helped to increase our understanding of the universe and solar system.

Dr Richard Ambrosi, Reader in Space Science & Instrumentation at the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy who supervises the course, added: “The growth in the UK and global space sectors will require graduates with a broad set of skills that will enable them to adapt to the dynamic environments they will encounter in industry and academia. The MSc in space exploration systems is designed to develop the necessary skills that graduates require to compete in a global space sector.”

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