Credit: NASA/Tom Tschida

Job Profile

Project Manager

Project Managers are responsible for overseeing projects, managing teams and making sure they run to time and keep within a budget.

Space missions can often take 10 years or more to go from first conception to launch, throughout this process there will be many project managers managing different aspects of the mission, some managing specific aspects of the mission and some managing the project as a whole.

For missions to succeed often multiple companies will be brought in that specialise in certain areas so there will also be project managers that manage the separate components being brought together.

Alongside organising the team behind the project, project managers will also be responsible for short, medium and long term planning for the mission, ensuring that the timeline in adhered to and managing a large a budget for the project to work within.

Within the space industry at large large, expensive projects are notorious for encountering issues and setbacks which may delay the project; project managers are responsible for appropriately adjusting plans where necessary.

The work undertaken by a project manager is highly varied and depends a huge amount on what stage the project is at.

Skills of a Project Manager

  • Ability to manage large interdisciplinary teams 
  • Good time management and planning skills
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Fluency in English is often required, additional language(s) would be an asset
  • Good organisational skills and proficient IT skills such as use of excel
  • Handling large budgets
  • Knowledge of the relevant field

Working Hours and Conditions

Project Managers will primarily be based in offices, often at the centre where most of the construction and development of the project is taking place. They will often work between 35 and 40 hour weeks, Monday to Friday, however there are often plenty of opportunities to travel to go and meet companies involved that are based around the globe.

Routes into project management

Project managers will usually be required to hold a university degree in a relevant field as a strong understanding of the project and its aims are essential to being able to successfully manage the project. Experience in managing large teams is also very useful for those wanting to pursue a career in project management. A good stepping stone is to get involved in student societies where you can gain valuable experience in management and teamwork which are essential skills for project managers.


Emma Collier

Emma studies Physics with Astronomy at the University of Southampton.

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