Operations Technician – Space Industry


Direct Entry Job Permanent Harwell, Oxfordshire, UK

Uploaded 12 Oct 2018

Job Description

The Environmental Test Division within RAL Space is responsible for the operation of this range of test facilities for the manufacture and qualification of multi-million pound space hardware. A number of the test facilities are used to simulate the thermal environment of Space that flight hardware is exposed to. These thermal tests typically operate 24 hours per day, 7 days a week for weeks at a time by a small and dedicated test team, however, the number of facilities the team has to operate has increased and the number of longer-term test programs has also increased.

The Operations Technician will be integral to the testing team and will be given a comprehensive training programme, covering all relevant systems and procedures. As a member of the operational team, you will often be solely responsible for the safe and efficient operation of one or more test facilities as well as diagnose faults and deal with problems as they arise. Such problems can range from Vacuum, Cryogenic or Electrical Control Systems or simply supporting more general requests for information from customers both locally or at remote locations. Emergency on-call support is provided throughout any test campaign for all operators

The team, when operating a facility, will cover shifts using either an 8 or 12 hour shift pattern. When there is no requirement for shift working, the team will be tasked with maintenance and servicing of the facilities as well as being part of the wider team that installs and sets up the equipment to be tested. Staff are required to be available to work as part of the shift team, as and when required, including nights and weekends, 365 Days a year. You will also be available to work some overtime to cover operational situations and problems.

Further responsibilities will include:

  • taking manual readings from test equipment to support operational requirements
  • completion of both paper-based and electronic logs of activities
  • following test procedures or test plans maintenance, servicing and installation activities associated with the facilities
  • supporting the wider team in the design and construction of world-leading facilities.

You will be appointed at either Band C or Band D of STFC’s staffing hierarchy, depending on the strength of your skills, experience and qualifications.

Person Specification

Shortlisting Criteria


  • hold an ONC, NVQ3 or equivalent, in Engineering or related subject or be time served in a related role with experience in a similar environment.


  • experience of operation and maintenance of vacuum systems, including both roughing and high vacuum pumps
  • experience of operation and maintenance of cryogenic systems, primarily based on Liquid Nitrogen control and distribution
  • familiarity with operation of computer control and data acquisition systems, primarily for temperature control
  • familiarity with working within a quality system such as ISO9001 or EN9100
  • direct experience with handling spaceflight equipment or other high value precision equipment
  • direct experience in the testing of space hardware in a Thermal Vacuum environment.

Interview Criteria


  • ability to work safely and follow safe working practices
  • ability to follow procedures
  • ability to document test activities and results
  • available to work as part of the shift team, as and when required, including nights and weekends, 365 Days a year in 8 or 12 hour patterns
  • good organisational skills
  • good communication skills (verbal and written)
  • good problem solving skills
  • attention to detail and commitment to see job through to the end
  • calm under pressure
  • be available to work overtime to cover operational situations and problems
  • willingness to undertake technical and non-technical training.


  • experience with Thermal Vacuum Testing
  • experience with Computerised control systems/PID Control
  • experience with Vacuum Systems
  • experience with Cryogenic Systems
  • experience with Electrical Systems
  • experience with CAD Systems
  • experience with IT Systems
  • experience handling flight or high value hardware.

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