Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC250659
Location Didcot See on Map
Salary £26932
Date Posted 02 September 2019
Grade UKRI-Band C
Contract Type Graduates
Hours Full Time
Closing Date 27 October 2019
Interview Date

Brief Description

Salary: £26,932
Grade: UKRI - C
Contract Type: Open-Ended
Hours: Full Time
Closing Date: 27th October 2019
Interview Date: Interviews will be held at one of our assessment centres:12th and 16th December 2019 and 21st and 28th January 2020


STFC - RAL Space - Graduate Spacecraft Thermal Engineer

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations. We’re trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science, technology and Engineering. For more information on STFC please view one of our videos -

STFC is one of nine organisations that have been brought together to create UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); a new organisation with a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

Our graduates join us in a permanent position, starting a real job from day one. Graduates enjoy two years of formal soft skills together with technical training and development, as well as a direct route to professional accreditation. STFC graduates have the opportunity to build on their degree, taking their understanding, knowledge and skills to a new level in a dynamic, creative, collaborative culture.

STFC consists of several distinct departments which each focus on a differents pecialism within science, technology, innovation and support, yet work together to achieve STFC’s grand ambitions. Different departments may look for graduates with similar skills, so you should consider which role/s are most suitable to you, and apply for up to two of these. See all our current graduate vacancies here.

RAL Space and the Thermal Engineering Group

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 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. 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 and responsibilities

Your main duty will be to use sound mechanical engineering principles to develop thermal control systems. This may include everything from initial concept designs (e.g. calculating heating and cooling requirements or defining radiator areas), through in-depth design and specification, to hardware assembly. As a key part of this work, you will be required 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 the instruments, and as tools to optimise their thermal control systems.

You will be expected to contribute to thermal testing of space instruments. This can include designing and commissioning the test configuration, preparing test procedures, managing the day to day test activities and producing test reports.

You will be expected to work closely with other engineering disciplines and groups, both at RAL and at other world leading national/international organisations. Some travel in the UK and abroad is likely. Effective presentation of technical information to both expert and non-expert audiences will be required. The position requires the engineer to produce well-written documents such as test reports, specifications, and procedures.

We are seeking a high-calibre engineering graduate with strong analytical skills and a genuine enthusiasm for space engineering projects. You are expected to have studied heat transfer and have a practical knowledge of other engineering disciplines. Ideally, you will also have some understanding of spacecraft thermal control analysis, techniques and hardware. Preparing tests and fitting hardware to space instruments mean that ‘hands-on’ practical abilities are desirable.

A good working knowledge of common PC office applications is required. Some experience of computer programming is desirable because these techniques are used to construct thermal models. Experience in mechanical design and CAD would also be advantageous. Strong communication skills and teamwork are essential to the demands of the post.

It is expected that you will be enrolled on the IMechE Monitored Professional Development Scheme (MPDS), with the aim of achieving Chartered Engineer status.  You will be given technical and non-technical training appropriate to your previous experience, the requirements of the work and of the MPDS.

Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. More information can be found at

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.

Shortlisting and Interview Criteria

The following criteria are assessed through shortlisting (S) and at interview (I).


  • Obtained first degree bachelors or Masters, (not doctorate) in a relevant subject (e.g. Engineering, Physics) in either 2018, 2019 or be due to receive it in 2020 (S)
  • Expected or have achieved a 2:1 or above (S&I)
  • The right to live and work in the UK (S)
  • A-Levels in Mathematics and Physics at a minimum of grade C, or an equivalent qualification (S)
  • Clear interest and enthusiasm for the post and space thermal engineering (S&I)
  • Presents and communicates information clearly (S&I)
  • Understanding of heat transfer principles (modes and analysis) (S&I)
  • Appreciation and understanding of spacecraft thermal control (drivers and techniques) (I)
  • Broad engineering knowledge (I)
  • Understanding of technical drawings (I)
  • Can demonstrate good team working capabilities (I).


  • IMechE accredited degree (S)
  • Space engineering qualification or spacecraft specific modules as part of qualification (S)
  • Use of thermal analysis software (S)
  • Computer programming experience (S)
  • Hands-on practical skills (e.g. workshop experience, parts assembly or testing) (S)
  • General space thermal/systems engineering knowledge (S&I)
  • Ability to travel in the UK and abroad (including overnight absences) (I).
  • Current starting salary of £26,932, plus annual incremental increase, a £1,000 welcome bonus and a £2,000 salary increase after the first year
  • Subject to performance you will be promoted after two years with us, resulting in a further salary increase
  • STFC’s Graduate scheme is accredited by: the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institute of Physics. STFC is also organisational member of the British Computer Society, The Chartered Institute for IT
  • You’ll get the chance to work on cutting-edge projects with international collaborators
  • STFC offers a benefits package designed to provide an excellent work/life balance including 30 days’ annual leave, 10.5 public and privilege holidays, flexible working hours and an exceptional pension scheme
  • Every graduate is provided with a mentor to help support them through the graduate scheme and to become chartered.

UKRI supports research in areas that include animal health, agriculture and food security, and bioscience for health which includes research on animals, genetic modification and stem cell research. Whilst you may not have direct involvement in this type of research, you should consider whether this conflicts with your personal values or beliefs.

To enable us to hire the very best people we will conduct a full and comprehensive pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process on all individuals that are offered a position with UKRI. This will include a security check and an extreme organisations affiliation check.

In order to apply for this role you must have:

  • Obtained your first degree bachelors or Masters, (not doctorate) in a relevant subject in either 2018, 2019 or be due to receive it in 2020
  • Expected or have achieved a 2:1 or above
  • The right to live and work in the UK

Please apply online only. Please submit a CV and cover letter outlining your suitability for this role.

Please ensure that your name and the IRC reference are included in the file name description of each document uploaded. Please also state where you saw this role advertised. No Agencies.

We recruit on a rolling basis therefore we recommend you to apply as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Applications will be reviewed and considered on an ongoing basis until our assessment centres are filled.

The assessment centre for this vacancy will be in December 2019 or January 2020 and will be held at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

Closing Date: 27th October 2019

To find out more about our graduate assessment process please visit:

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