Launch Systems Engineer

UK Space Agency

Direct Entry Job 2 years Didcot, UK

Uploaded 7 Aug 2018

Job Description

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) is an Executive Agency of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is responsible for UK civil space strategy. One of the areas the UKSA leads is the licensing of UK space missions to ensure that they are compliant with the UK’s obligations made under international treaties such as the Outer Space Treaty. The UK is now looking to establish a commercial launch capability and a critical enabler for this is establishment of the policy and regulatory approach which will govern future launch licensing. To support the regulatory development and eventual licensing activities, the UKSA has recently established the Launch Systems team, a new technical capability reporting to the Chief Engineer. 

The Launch Systems Team, provides the technical capability essential to effectively assessing the safety, reputational and financial (liability) risks associated with licensing launch from the UK. This role, reporting to the Head of Launch Systems, will support the delivery of technical guidance to the policy and regulatory team, develop key elements of the launch risk assessment tools and engage with prospective launch licensees. 

Key Responsibilities: 

  • Develop expert knowledge and understanding in the operation of launch vehicles, ranges and spaceports operating from/in the UK 
  • Deliver impartial guidance on the operation of launch vehicles and associated infrastructure from/in the UK 
  • Develop key expertise in international launch regulations associated with flight safety 
  • Gain expert knowledge and understanding of the role of a launch regulator throughout the license cycle (pre-application, application, inspection) 
  • Support the development of guidance material that will provide instruction to future UK launch operators and range service providers 
  • Support the development and implementation of new models/tools for use in in-house risk assessment. 
  • Support the review of prospective launch license applications 
  • Help to develop strategies to address the technical issues presented by the spaceflight programme. 
  • Participate in and contribute to technical meetings with academic collaborators, industry and regulatory stakeholders, both internally and externally to UKSA. 
  • Provide wider technical support across the Agency on various national and international programmes 

Person Specification

The post-holder will need to have a strong technical background, with demonstrated experience in the design and/or delivery of space hardware. Our ideal candidate will have experience in the space industry particularly in the launch sector. The post-holder will typically need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding in most of the following disciplines: 


  • Degree level knowledge of an engineering, scientific or mathematical discipline, or equivalent science based/engineering experience (individual research projects on launch related topics an advantage) 
  • Knowledge and experience in spacecraft (preferably launch vehicle) design. Specifically, the candidates should demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of the following space engineering disciplines: 
    • Launch vehicle / spacecraft system and subsystem characteristics (configuration/architecture, performance, reliability, interfaces, supply chain, launch site infrastructure) 
    • Mission analysis and design (launch window, orbits, delta-V, launch campaigns) 
    • Qualification approach, Technology Readiness Levels, Assembly, Integration and Verification (AIV) processes
  • Experience using existing scientific/engineering software, including problem construction and results analysis 
  • Experience developing mathematical models to represent and solve problems in the real world. 
  • Experience in developing, managing and trading-off complex engineering requirements in the support of detailed design studies, hardware development and/or implementation programmes (e.g. involvement in ESA activities). Including a clear understanding of the approaches to verification and validation of design requirements. 
  • Previous involvement in any phase of a space project lifecycle. A clear understanding and experience of project milestones and expected deliverables for large engineering projects. 
  • Demonstrated ability to convey complex engineering/scientific topics to a varied audience across the Agency, Government and International partners 


Although not essential, demonstrated experience in one or more of the areas below would be an advantage to the applicant : 

  • Involvement in the test campaigns for space hardware either for new components/ subsystems or Technology Readiness Level (TRL) raising activity 
  • Knowledge and experience in mission analysis for launch vehicles, including trajectory optimisation, high-speed aerodynamics, stage impact propagation/dispersion, vehicle performance for expendable and/or reuseable launch vehicles 
  • Demonstrated Project or Work Package management experience including the creation of Work Package Descriptions, quantifying engineering effort, tracking of progress and reporting results 

Personal Attributes: 

  • Excellent analytical ability 
  • Strong communication skills, both verbal and written, with a proven ability to convey technical information to both experts and non-experts alike 
  • Ability to collaborate closely with others, work independently or work as part of a team


Degree level knowledge of an engineering, scientific or mathematical discipline, or equivalent science based/engineering experience (individual research projects on launch related topics an advantage)