Work Placement / Internship

Spacecraft Dynamic Testing Industrial Placement

Didcot, Oxfordshire

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The Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space department carries out an exciting range of world class space research and technology development. We’ve had significant involvement in over 200 space missions and operate at the very forefront of UK Space Research! 

The UK has invested £99m in the National Satellite Test Facility, nearing completion at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Harwell! This facility will provide a world class set of co-located facilities for the assembly, integration and testing of space payloads and satellites. The facility will have the capability to conduct Vibration, Acoustic, Thermal, Pyroshock, Electromagnetic Compatability (EMC) and antennae testing for payloads up to 7 tonnes within clean room conditions.  

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The NSTF is currently in the final fit out phase, moving into facility commissioning in 2021/22. The operation of both the new and existing environmental test facilities are the responsibility of the Environmental Test Division, with the Dynamics Group being responsible for a range of test types including vibration, shock, direct field acoustic noise and mass properties. To support the transition to operations of the new facilities, new test procedures will need to be developed and it is envisaged that all tests will be supported by numerical models to enable virtual testing. 

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities  

Working within the Dynamics group of the Environmental Test Division at RAL Space, this placement involves supporting the team and assisting with vibration and pyroshock testing campaigns of spacecraft equipment for both internal and external customers, including the setup of equipment and test items. Duties could include being part of a small group to set up test rigs for testing and operate its software for data capture and analysis, working alongside customers to meet their requirements for the test, and providing them with useful, relevant test data and information.  

This placement will join the team in an exciting transition - the commissioning process for the new National Satellite Test Facility, and can contribute to the preparation of the large vibration and acoustic testing facilities for the first large satellite tests. Throughout the placement, a growing understanding of spacecraft dynamic testing will allow the successful candidate to work on some more independent projects such as micro-vibration work or development of shock test techniques. 

Are you enthusiastic and highly motivated? Working well in a team as well as working independently and a strong interest in physical testing of spacecraft structural response is essential. 

Other duties involved include: 

  • Assisting other test engineers in preparing and carrying out vibration tests 
  • Operating analysis equipment and software for capturing and processing data 
  • Developing analysis and test methods to improve the breadth or understanding of test operations 

In order to apply for this role you must have: 


  • At university, enrolled on an undergraduate STEM degree course and required or have requested to take a year out of studies to gain experience within industry  
  • Right to live and work in the UK  
  • Good written and verbal communication skills  
  • Aptitude for working and communicating effectively within a small team  
  • Good hands on experimental and mechanical skills, experience or demonstrated aptitude  


  • An aptitude for working in a highly organised environment procedures must be followed and documented actions  
  • An understanding of dynamics of structures including the effects of frequency and damping 

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