Women have always played a crucial role in developing space technology. (If you haven’t already, we highly recommend you watch the 2016 movie Hidden Figures about the black women who helped send the first man to space!)
But Debra Facktor, Head of U.S. Space Systems, Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, recently shared this in an interview with McKinsey & Company:
“One of the most important things we can do is to continue to invest in talent, in encouraging young people to pursue technical careers—especially women and underrepresented minorities—to go into fields like aerospace.”
As with any field of technology, the Space Tech workforce needs input from diverse voices and perspectives. With the industry expanding rapidly and expected to reach $1 trillion in annual revenue by 2040, more skilled workers are needed. For those already working in tech, there’s plenty of opportunity to get involved in the future of space technology.
So let’s look at what’s in store for Space Tech, what it means for you, and what’s been going on since people last walked on the moon in 1972.
What is happening in Space Tech?
The incredible James Webb telescope images that were captured and shared with the world last year reminded many of us that we’re remarkably tiny in the grand scheme of things. Outer space is huge and unknown. But while there have been some efforts to explore it, a lot of the work done in space over the last few decades has focused on Earth itself.
Here are some of the advances the space industry has focused on in recent times.
Since the first satellite was launched into space in 1957, there have been over 11,000 more released. These have been used to send signals across the globe in a matter of seconds, allowing us to power television broadcasts and use our cell phones even in remote locations.
A constant stream of satellite data keeps our generation – which demands instant access! – up to date with the latest information, for example, traffic conditions and weather forecasts.
Many industries rely on datasets generated in space. Satellite data and AI are being used to monitor deforestation and ocean temperatures, support agriculture, and forecast natural disasters to ensure human safety.
In developing nations, satellite data can also help provide essential resource management. And it’s sometimes used to inform aid workers on the movements of refugees.
Space tourism, exploration and transportation
Richard Branson’s widely publicized Virgin Galactic flight in 2021 revealed a strong desire for space tourism. New passengers are expected to pay up to $450,000 for a seat on a flight to the edge of space!
NASA has plans to take people to the moon in 2025 or 2025 (including the first woman and the first person of color!), and expects to establish human habitats there within the decade.
Commercial companies such as Japan’s iSpace are also planning voyages into space, kicking off the commercialization of the moon. Scientists are keen to locate sources of water on the moon, which could be used to refuel aircraft on its way to Mars or beyond.
While mining the moon, Mars and other celestial bodies hasn’t begun in earnest, improved technology and the need for resources on Earth is pushing this onto the agenda. Spacecraft have already demonstrated the ability to touch down on asteroids and extract materials.
Why is Space Tech important?
Technology in any industry is supposed to solve problems in new ways, and drive better outcomes for people. In the realm of Space Tech this holds true. But in this field, the resources that scientists and technicians can use go beyond the bounds of Earth.
Global consultancy and research company Ernst and Young (EY) says that Space Tech “removes humans from danger zones and puts them in the driver’s seat, accelerating innovation with data-rich tools and navigating new domains”.
EY also illustrates various ways that Space Tech can make a meaningful difference in our world, using these practical examples:
Flag a leaking water pipe in critical urban infrastructure
Keep watch over fuel-loads in bushland to assess bushfire risks
Validate insurance claims remotely
Monitor revegetation commitments
Alert an energy company of erosion threatening a transmission tower
Monitor carbon stockpiles and predict vegetation growth and species health.
There are a range of ways Space Tech can positively shape our world. So, how do you break into the industry and be a part of it?
Job opportunities in Space Tech
A lot of the Space Tech jobs available right now are roles you’ll see in all industries. Indeed.com lists the 16 top space industry jobs to consider:
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Designer
But as the industry grows and develops, it’s likely that new Space Tech jobs will come into the equation. The Space Report proposes some jobs that may exist in the Space Industry in future, including Food Engineers, Space Architects and Construction Experts, and Space Health Practitioners.
One area that’s guaranteed to need more talent as the space industry grows is cybersecurity, data and defense. The war in Ukraine, as well as a global increase in data breaches, are forcing companies to create satellite technology that’s more resilient to attacks.
In-demand skills for the Space Industry
Space Talent outlines some of the top skills needed to break into Space Tech, including key soft skills like:
Critical thinking skills
And technical skills like:
These are skills you can develop yourself, or study through programs or college courses.
If you’re interested in getting a feel for working in the space industry, we highly recommend listening to The Girls in Tech Podcast episode with female astronaut Alyssa Carson.
And if you’re ready to dive into your job search, keep a look out for Space Tech roles at inclusive companies over on the Girls in Tech Jobs Board.