Graduate Opportunity

Graduate Spacecraft Thermal Engineer

Didcot, Oxfordshire

Save to shortlist Saved to shortlist Apply now

RAL Space, based at STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), carries out an exciting range of world-class space research and technology development. We work closely with organisations like ESA and NASA and have had significant involvement in over 200 space missions. We are at the forefront of UK space research.

The Thermal Engineering Group within RAL Space is responsible for the design, development and testing of spacecraft scientific payloads, ground-based space instruments and calibration equipment. The group also manages a facility for the design and production of the Multi-layer Insulation used on spacecraft.

What soft skills will you learn?

From teamwork to communication, and from technical learning to becoming a STEM ambassador – Ben Bealing from STFC reveals the variety of skills you can learn on the company's graduate programme. To watch the full Gradcracker/STFC webinar, click here.

Our day-to-day work ranges from studies for future missions through to the design and testing of high-profile instruments, such as the Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the NASA James Webb Space Telescope observatory. The thermal challenge for MIRI is to cool its detectors to a chilly 6 K (-267 °C)! At the other extreme, we have designed and built the SPICE instrument for ESA’s Solar Orbiter, which must survive and work in a very hot orbit close to the surface of the Sun. 

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities:

  • To use sound mechanical engineering principles to develop thermal control systems, from initial conceptual designs through to in-depth design specification and hardware assembly.
  • To perform computer-based analysis (using software such as ESATAN-TMS and Systema Thermica) and hand calculations to predict and verify the thermal performance of space hardware, and as tools to optimise their thermal control systems.
  • To contribute to thermal testing, which can include designing and commissioning the test configuration, preparing test procedures, managing the day-to-day test activities and producing test reports.
  • To work closely with other engineering fields and groups, both at RAL and at other world leading national/international organisations. Some travel in the UK and abroad is possible.
  • To produce well-written documents (such as design reports and test specifications) and communicate information effectively to both professional and non-expert audiences. 

In order to apply for the role you must have:


  • Obtained first degree bachelors or Masters, (not doctorate) in a relevant subject in either 2020, 2021 or be due to receive it in 2022 
  • Expected or have achieved a 2:1 or above 
  • The right to live and work in the UK 
  • A-Levels in Mathematics and Physics at a minimum of grade C, or an equivalent qualification 
  • Clear interest and enthusiasm for the post and space thermal engineering 
  • Presents and communicates information clearly 
  • Understanding of heat transfer principles 
  • Appreciation and understanding of spacecraft thermal control 
  • Broad engineering knowledge 
  • Understanding of technical drawings 
  • Can demonstrate good team working capabilities 


  • Space engineering qualification or spacecraft specific modules as part of qualification 
  • Use of thermal analysis software 
  • Computer programming experience 
  • Hands-on practical skills (e.g. workshop experience, parts assembly or testing) 
  • General space thermal/systems engineering knowledge 
  • Ability to travel in the UK and abroad (including overnight absences) 

We've signed the Gradcracker feedback pledge.

(This means that we will supply feedback if requested after an interview.)


Apply online now
This button will open a new tab and take you directly to the employer's website to apply.
Please remember, if asked, that you found this job on Gradcracker.
Save to shortlist Saved to shortlist

Opportunity Overview

  • October 31st, 2021
  • £27,938 + benefits
  • 2:1 and above
  • Didcot, Oxfordshire
    (Show map)

Preferred Disciplines...

  • Aerodynamics
  • Aeronautics
  • Aerospace
  • Avionics
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials & Minerals
  • Materials Science
  • Mechanical
  • Mechatronics

Also Accepting...
Click to show all disciplines

More on our Hub

Employee Profiles

View more »

Watch our videos

Watch more of our videos »


View our blogs

Follow your favourite employers
Save jobs to your shortlist
Receive personalised alerts
Access our live webinars
Register now