I have been a Web Developer in London since I graduated in 2012. My skills reside mainly in the Microsoft stack (MSSQL, .NET, C#, MVC and all the front-end stuff).

I have always been very interested and passionate about space associated technologies and engineering. I believe we are living in a very interesting time for space technology and the future is very exciting. I would love to be part of this and if I could become a software developer in the space industry, frankly it would be a dream come true.

My question is, is this an achievable transition?

I have had a bit of a look around at relevant jobs and similar questions to mine and have found that languages such as C, C++, Python and MatLab are used widely in the industry. I do not have much experience with these other than a couple of modules of C that I did at university. I've already started to look into Python online and I'm enjoying it so far!

I wouldn't expect to be able to jump straight into an experienced software development role straight away so I'm also wondering if there is a good way to gain appropriate experience which would help me in my quest to work in the space industry? (i.e. jobs I could aim for as a middle-ground, courses etc).

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    $\begingroup$ As someone who has designed both software and hardware for the space industry: how willing are you to spend more than three quarters of your time on paperwork? $\endgroup$ – DonFusili Sep 13 '18 at 10:29

Developing software to help with space stuff doesn't just mean building big complex C/C++ engines, or even analytical engines, to use the data. Remember that a significant part of public outreach is building websites! In addition, many of the tools used to ensure that spacecraft are operating correctly, programming them to do tasks, and help figure out what images to take next are done using websites on an intranet.

My suggestion would be to try and find a job with the space industry that involves such skills. Use what you know, and try and use it to get in the industry you want. Then learn the skills there that will help you to get a better job you would want.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, while you're looking for a job, do what you can to build a project portfolio on your own time. There's a wealth of resources, from open source software at code.nasa.gov, to freely available data sources at data.nasa.gov, to live-streaming ISS telemetry available at demos.lightstreamer.com/ISSLive. Some examples of things people have done include telemetry.space (dashboard visualization of the same telemetry above) and stuffin.space. You don't have to be in industry to do something cool! $\endgroup$ – Tristan Feb 12 '18 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks guys, these are some great ideas! I will have a look at the resources you've linked @Tristan and see if I can come up with a nice little project to work on :) $\endgroup$ – Andy Furniss Feb 12 '18 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ Also, while software that flies the spacecraft will be usually written to run on embedded, bare iron, embedded Linux and similar, only a small percent of the software flies the spacecraft. Models, simulators, visualizations, data processing, logistics, management, heaps upon heaps of ground-based software; the software "for the spacecraft" is just a tip of the iceberg! $\endgroup$ – SF. Sep 13 '18 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Tristan I just noticed your comment. Since comments are considered temporary, and many readers may skip them, why not write that up as a new answer? I think that would bring your good advice to more future readers who could benefit from it. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 18 at 7:59

In the space industry there is a great need for software engineers of all backgrounds and interests. I did a couple of internships at NASA and now work at a private space company. Through these experiences I got to work on autonomous software for rocket tests using Matlab, deep learning for virtual reality using Python & Unreal Engine, and now flight software for rockets using C++. I met others who worked on the websites and databases for telescope and spacecraft data to developing mobile applications for helping agriculture sectors through A.I. powered analytics. I would say to take what you are interested in and transition it into the space sector. There is a need for everyone and your skills and experiences are definitely needed in the space industry.


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