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The maths in space careers

Maths in space careers

Space careers are (almost) growing at the speed of light. And behind all the fun and varied gigs? The M in STEM!

FYI: The space industry is booming! With the Australian Space Agency aiming to triple the size of the sector and create up to 20,000 new space jobs by 2030, there’s never been a better time to launch your space career. If you’re keen on (moon)walking this path, you’ll need solid maths skills, so if you’re thinking about dropping it as a subject … don’t!

But what kind of maths will you need? If you want to be an astronomer, you’ll have to calculate mass to understand the size of planets and use trigonometry to measure the distance between planets, stars and even different galaxies.

What about if you want to be an astronaut? We recommend getting good at measurements because you’ll use this to work out the effects of zero gravity on your height. Future astronauts (and aerospace engineers!) should also scrub up on calculus to calculate optimal rocket speed for launching into space. Aerospace engineers need to know how to calculate speed and velocity when designing vehicles too.

Data scientists are another important profession in the space industry and this job is all about the numbers. As a space data scientist, you’ll be tasked with collecting and analysing information from spacecraft, rovers, satellites and telescopes to extract and communicate insights on everything from space weather to spacecraft health.

Whatever direction your space career journey takes you, you can’t go wrong with a solid foundation in maths.

Space by the numbers

$150 million: How much money is being pledged by the government for the Moon to Mars initiative. This is all about getting Australian companies and researcher involved in NASA’s plans to return to the Moon, and then venture out to Mars.

$65.7 million: Is going to the Fast Tracking Access to Space initiative. The aim? To get Aussie tech into space sooner and make us a leading launch destination!

$12 billion: How many dollars Australia aims to make in revenue from its space sector by 2030.

$7-10 billion: The amount of investment Defence space capabilities will get by 2030.

30,000: How many people could be working in the Australian space sector by 2030.

10: STEM + space activities to try on the weekend or in the school holidays. Prepare to be skilled up and inspired! Find them here.

6: Space careers that don’t involve leaving Earth.

4: The number of videos in this Careers with STEM playlist – they’ll get you excited for carving out your own role in space. Watch them here.

Meet space pros

We’ve got starry eyes for their out-of-this-world careers!

Helen Maynard-Casely, instrument scientist
Helen Maynard-Casely, instrument scientist

Dr Helen Maynard-Casely, instrument scientist

Helen uses instruments like WOMBAT (a high-intensity powder diffractometer) to recreate the conditions on moons like Saturn’s Titan to try and find out how these geological features are formed.

Read Helen’s career profile.

Brenan Dew, Australian Space Discovery Centre manager

In his cool space gig, Brenan helps young people see the variety of careers in this sector, such as space medicine and space law.

Check out Brenan’s CV.

Who’s hiring?

Hit up these Australian companies for your dream maths + space job!

  • Gilmour Space Technologies
  • Fleet Space Technologies
  • Myriota
  • CSIRO
  • Quasar Satellite Technologies
  • Exodus Space Systems

Job Kit: Space and defence specialist

Space and Defence Specialist

This free Careers with STEM Job Kit download is your introduction to careers in space and Defence. Inside you’ll find deets on working in the industry, salary insights and advice from those already working in this field. Get your copy!

This article originally appeared in Careers with STEM: Maths & Data 2024.

For more insights, subscribe to the Careers with STEM e-newsletter.

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