How my career in the Space sector took off

We’re delighted to share a guest blog post from University of Edinburgh, Geography alumnus, Becky Morris. Becky is the Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Skyrora… read on to check out Becky’s path from university into the Space industry.

My journey into the Space sector

I could not have predicted that I would have ended up working at Skyrora, one of the UK’s leading New Space companies directly out of university. I developed an interest in the space industry through a course I studied in my third year of university entitled ‘Remote Sensing & Global Climate Change’ with Professor Iain Woodhouse. As the end of my final year of university studies was rapidly approaching, I began researching jobs and industries and was fortunate enough to come across Skyrora.

My role at Skyrora combines my interest and knowledge of the space industry with an environmental focus both directly through my work in corporate social responsibility CSR within the company and the satellites that Skyrora launch, many of which are associated with earth observation and disaster mitigation.

Overview of the Space sector

The Space sector is currently one of the fastest growing industries in the United Kingdom. As reported by London Economics, the UK space industry experienced a growth rate of 3.3% in 2016/17 with total income rising to £14.8 billion. Such growth is in line with the UK government’s aim to harness 10% of the global space economy by 2030.

Employment within the UK space industry has also increased at a rate of 4.3% per year since 2012, with the greatest concentration of highly skilled jobs in London, south-east England and Scotland. This growth in employment has been fuelled by a growth in research and development (R&D) investment by the government. £566 million was invested in space sector R&D in 2016/17, making the space industry six times more R&D intensive than the UK average.

Scotland is right at the heart of this New Space era in the UK. For several decades now, Glasgow has been a satellite production hub. In 2018, Glasgow was officially recognised as the largest producer of satellites outside the United States of America. It is safe to say that Glasgow has firmly established Scotland’s position at the forefront of developing and commercialising data-led applications. More recently, in 2018, the UK Space Agency announced that the UK’s first spaceport will be constructed in Sutherland.

So, what does Skyrora do?

Skyrora is a launch vehicle company headquartered in Edinburgh. We cater for the rapidly growing small satellite market and our orbital vehicle can carry payloads of 315kg to 500km polar and sun-synchronous orbits. We have six workshops located across the UK and Europe with our main production and integration facility located in Loanhead, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. We are currently on track to achieve our aim of conducting orbital launch from a Scottish spaceport by early 2022.

Most recent developments include our second test launch of our developmental vehicle Skylark Nano II and the successful test of our third stage orbital engine in Cornwall, the first commercially fully 3D printed bi-liquid rocket engine test to ever be conducted on UK soil.

Working at Skyrora has opened numerous windows of opportunities for me. Just one year after graduating from university, I have attended events and conferences across the UK, Europe and internationally; at several of these events I have been selected to talk on panels and deliver key notes speeches to hundreds of global industry leaders.

Parting advice…

The wealth of experience that I have gained from the relatively short time that I have spent with Skyrora to date is second to none. While working at a small and rapidly emerging new space company can be a challenging environment to find your feet and break free from the supervision received throughout university studies, it also offers new challenges, increased responsibility and unmatched opportunities for career progression.

Interested in finding out more?

Hear from University of Glasgow physics graduate, Nicola Walker, a Graduate Propulsion Engineer at Skyrora, by reading her guest blog on the UoE Physics Careers Blog.

Skyrora are attending our Careers in Engineering Fair in the Sanderson Building on Wednesday 30th October from 1.30pm.

(Image: CCO, by pencilparker on Pixabay)


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