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Salary range: 
£25,000 to £30,000
Job/scheme locations: 
Type of opportunity: 
Graduate scheme
Application deadline: 

STFC - RAL Space - Graduate Spacecraft Thermal Engineer

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations. We’re trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science, technology and Engineering. 

STFC is one of nine organisations that have been brought together to create UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); a new organisation with a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

Our graduates join us in a permanent position, starting a real job from day one. Graduates enjoy two years of formal soft skills together with technical training and development, as well as a direct route to professional accreditation. STFC graduates have the opportunity to build on their degree, taking their understanding, knowledge and skills to a new level in a dynamic, creative, collaborative culture.

STFC consists of several distinct departments which each focus on a differents pecialism within science, technology, innovation and support, yet work together to achieve STFC’s grand ambitions. Different departments may look for graduates with similar skills, so you should consider which role/s are most suitable to you, and apply for up to two of these.

RAL Space and the Thermal Engineering Group

RAL Space, based at STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), carries out an exciting range of world-class space research and technology development. We work closely with organisations like ESA and NASA and have significant involvement in over 200 space missions. We are at the forefront of UK space research.

The Thermal Engineering Group within RAL Space is responsible for the design, development and testing of spacecraft scientific payloads, ground-based space instruments and calibration equipment. Our day-to-day work ranges from studies for future missions through to the design and testing of high-profile instruments, such as the Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the NASA James Webb Space Telescope observatory. The thermal challenge for MIRI is to cool its detectors to a chilly 6 K (-267 °C)! At the other extreme, we have designed and built the SPICE instrument for ESA’s Solar Orbiter, which must survive and work in a very hot orbit close to the surface of the Sun.

Summary of key duties and responsibilities

Your main duty will be to use sound mechanical engineering principles to develop thermal control systems. This may include everything from initial concept designs (e.g. calculating heating and cooling requirements or defining radiator areas), through in-depth design and specification, to hardware assembly. As a key part of this work, you will be required to perform computer based analysis (using software such as ESATAN-TMS and Systema Thermica) and hand calculations to predict and verify the thermal performance of the instruments, and as tools to optimise their thermal control systems.

You will be expected to contribute to thermal testing of space instruments. This can include designing and commissioning the test configuration, preparing test procedures, managing the day to day test activities and producing test reports.

You will be expected to work closely with other engineering disciplines and groups, both at RAL and at other world leading national/international organisations. Some travel in the UK and abroad is likely. Effective presentation of technical information to both expert and non-expert audiences will be required. The position requires the engineer to produce well-written documents such as test reports, specifications, and procedures.

We are seeking a high-calibre engineering graduate with strong analytical skills and a genuine enthusiasm for space engineering projects. You are expected to have studied heat transfer and have a practical knowledge of other engineering disciplines. Ideally, you will also have some understanding of spacecraft thermal control analysis, techniques and hardware. Preparing tests and fitting hardware to space instruments mean that ‘hands-on’ practical abilities are desirable.

A good working knowledge of common PC office applications is required. Some experience of computer programming is desirable because these techniques are used to construct thermal models. Experience in mechanical design and CAD would also be advantageous. Strong communication skills and teamwork are essential to the demands of the post.

It is expected that you will be enrolled on the IMechE Monitored Professional Development Scheme (MPDS), with the aim of achieving Chartered Engineer status.  You will be given technical and non-technical training appropriate to your previous experience, the requirements of the work and of the MPDS.

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