Mission Control Room at the European Space Operations CentreCredit: ESA - Jurgen Mai
Mission Control Room at the European Space Operations Centre

Job Profile

Spacecraft Operator

Spacecraft Operators are vital to the success of any space mission, whenever a spacecraft is powered up they are responsible for making sure that it is running correctly, efficiently and diagnosing and fixing any problems that occur.

Spacecraft Operators have a very important role throughout spacecraft missions, from mission preparation when the spacecraft is still on ground and supporting inflight operations during the mission, to making sure the spacecraft is ready for the next mission or ensuring disposal is executed safely at the end of the mission. 

Often work on a particular mission can begin 10 years prior to the launch of spacecraft or satellite. You will typically work on several different missions at the same time which are all at different phases meaning the work will be very diverse.

When the mission is underway you will also be involved in analysing the data collected, especially keeping an eye out for any anomalies that may point to an issue with the instruments on board or signs of degradation.

Skills of a Spacecraft Operator

  • Logic
  • Creativity
  • Strong understanding of the mission aims and the scientific background
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving
  • Team work

Problem solving and creativity are key skills for spacecraft operators as you will often need to find new ways to solve unpredictable problems.

Routes into Spacecraft Operations

Spacecraft Operators tend to have a university degree in engineering, physics or other related discipline.


Emma Collier

Emma studies Physics with Astronomy at the University of Southampton.

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