Space Science

Careers in Space Science

Is a career in space science right for you?

If you’re interested in working in a field that involves studying the planets, the solar system, and other aspects of the universe, consider investigating the many opportunities for careers in space science.


Every country that operates a space exploration program has a limited number of career opportunities for astronauts. Individuals who want to pursue careers as astronauts must undergo rigorous training and meet stringent physical fitness criteria. Competition for these positions is fierce, and only the most outstanding candidates are likely to be accepted into their country’s astronaut training program.


While it is the astronauts who travel to outer space that get the most attention, it is the engineers who make space exploration travel possible. In addition to designing spacecrafts, space vehicles and space stations, engineers also create the space satellites that help us better understand the weather and climate conditions that impact our daily lives. There are opportunities for many different types of engineers in the field of space science.

Space Scientists

Many scientists choose to pursue research and development careers in space science. For example, many pharmacology researchers are investigating ways to develop new medications from substances discovered during space exploration trips.

Technologist and Technician Positions

In addition to the engineers who design space science technology and the scientists who specialize in making sense of what is discovered in outer space, technologists and technicians play an important role in the field of space science. These individuals work closely with the engineers and scientists to build, test, and perfect various types of space technology and innovations.



Tell the purpose of space exploration and include the following:

(a) Historical reasons
(b) Immediate goals in terms of specific knowledge
(c) Benefits related to Earth resources, technology, and new products
(d) International relations and cooperation
  1. Design a collector’s card, with a picture on the front and information on the back, about your favorite space pioneer. Share your card and discuss four other space pioneers with your counselor.
  2. Build, launch, and recover a model rocket.* Make a second launch to accomplish a specific objective. (Rocket must be built to meet the safety code of the National Association of Rocketry. See the “Model Rocketry” chapter of the Space Exploration merit badge pamphlet.) Identify and explain the following rocket parts:
(a) Body tube
(b) Engine mount
(c) Fins
(d) Igniter
(e) Launch lug
(f) Nose cone
(g) Payload
(h) Recovery system
(i) Rocket engine
  1. Discuss and demonstrate each of the following:
(a) The law of action-reaction
(b) How rocket engines work
(c) How satellites stay in orbit
(d) How satellite pictures of Earth and pictures of other planets are made and transmitted
  1. Do TWO of the following:
(a) Discuss with your counselor a robotic space exploration mission and a historic crewed mission. Tell about each mission’s major discoveries, its importance, and what was learned from it about the planets, moons, or regions of space explored.
(b) Using magazine photographs, news clippings, and electronic articles (such as from the Internet), make a scrapbook about a current planetary mission.
(c) Design a robotic mission to another planet or moon that will return samples of its surface to Earth. Name the planet or moon your spacecraft will visit. Show how your design will cope with the conditions of the planet’s or moon’s environment.

6.Describe the purpose, operation, and components of ONE of the following:

(a) Space shuttle or any other crewed orbital vehicle, whether government-owned (U.S. or foreign) or commercial
(b) International Space Station

7.Design an inhabited base located within our solar system, such as Titan, asteroids, or other locations that humans might want to explore in person. Make drawings or a model of your base. In your design, consider and plan for the following:


(a) Source of energy
(b) How it will be constructed
(c) Life-support system
(d) Purpose and function


8.Discuss with your counselor two possible careers in space exploration that interest you. Find out the qualifications, education, and preparation required and discuss the major responsibilities of those positions.