Careers astronomy

Aeronautical drafters

Aeronautical drafters make mechanical drawings of aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, rockets, helicopters equipment related to the aerospace industry and all their components. Aeronautical drafters are also responsible for developing scale drawings of prototype equipment. The mechanical drawings provide the exact information needed to make the equipment, including instructions for manufacturing it. Drafters must draw the equipment precisely to scale and at several different angles, and provide specifications such as dimensions. In the past, aeronautical drafters created the drawings manually. But today, most drafters create their final drawings on a computer using a technique called computer-aided design and drafting (CADD).

Aerospace engineers

Aerospace engineers apply engineering principles and techniques to the design, development, and testing of spacecraft, missiles, and other aircraft. Many kinds of engineers work in the aerospace industry, which is involved in the production of both aircraft and spacecraft. Aerospace project engineers direct and coordinate the activities of teams assigned to a particular project. They are responsible for determining the feasibility of a project, as well as its cost and production time. Aerospace design engineers develop basic design concepts used in aeronautical and aerospace equipment and systems. Aerospace test engineers conduct testing activities on the equipment to ensure it meets established engineering, quality, and safety standards. Aerospace field-service engineers investigate and resolve any technical difficulties encountered in aerospace equipment and systems.

Aerospace physiological technicians

Aerospace physiological technicians use their special knowledge and skills to minimize the physical and physiological stresses of pilots and astronauts in flight. These technicians are responsible for obtaining physiological and medical histories of pilot and astronaut candidates during job interviews to determine if they have any problems that would prevent them from performing their duties. Aerospace physiological technicians also operate a variety of training devices that simulate flying conditions, such as pressure suits, pressure chambers, para sail equipment, and ejection seats. When training a pilot or astronaut in a pressure chamber, these technicians simulate flying conditions through a control panel, adjusting gas and air flow, temperature, and barometric pressure to reflect different altitudes and speeds.


Astronomers study the locations and motions of stars, planets, and other heavenly bodies. Most astronomers are also called astrophysicists because they use physics and mathematics to examine the physical and chemical processes that occur in the universe.
Today’s astronomers spend little time observing the heavens through a telescope. Instead, they use photographic and electronic equipment, computers, and satellites to see far into space. Most astronomers specialize in a particular area, such as stellar astronomy, the study of stars; solar astronomy, the study of the sun; or planetary astronomy, the study of conditions on the planets. Astronomers who study the history and structure of the universe as a whole are called cosmologists.


Astronauts operate spacecraft and space stations, launch and recapture satellites, and conduct experiments in space. On the ground, astronauts participate in space-mission work, and often assist in the design of spacecraft. Pilot astronauts command and pilot spacecraft. Mission specialist astronauts conduct experiments, launch satellites, and perform spacewalks. They also maintain the spacecraft and its equipment. Payload specialists tarry out scientific experiments connected with the payload (cargo) on the spacecraft. Most astronauts work for NASA and receive extensive training at the London B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where they also live. They attend classes conducted experts in aerodynamics, physics, physiology, and tether subjects. They also receive flight training in T-38 jet aircraft.

Flight surgeons

Flight surgeons are medical doctors who study the effects of flight on human health. These doctors specialize in aviation medicine, which involves the care of airplane crews and passengers. Aviation medicine and space medicine, which focuses on the care of astronauts, are the two major areas in the field of aerospace medicine. Flight surgeons help design equipment and develop crew selection and training programs that protect the health and safety of airplane crews and passengers. They also investigate airplane accidents, train flight crews for survival after accidents, and transport sick or injured people by air. Researchers who specialize in space medicine study the effects of space travel on humans. For example, they investigate ways to reduce the bone and muscle loss caused by weightlessness, through diet, exercise, and drug therapy. These scientists also study the effects of radiation on space travelers and the psychological effects of long space missions.

Flight test data acquisition technicians

Flight test data acquisition technicians are specialists in obtaining and analyzing flight test data. These technicians use their knowledge of electronic theory and the operation of computer systems to set up, operate, and monitor the computer systems and devices used to record and analyze the data. Their job begins as soon as a flight test is planned, since they must know which data will be required for post-flight analysis. They discuss all the requirements with members of the flight engineering team to ensure that the correct data will be recorded. Once that step is completed, the technicians set up the equipment and design the computer programs that will be used to capture the data during the flight test. They input the necessary information into the computer program, modifying it as necessary for additional or revised test requirements.

Planetarium technicians

Planetarium technicians combine their knowledge of astronomy with their technical expertise to plan and coordinate planetarium presentations. A planetarium is a device that shows the changing positions of the heavenly bodies by projecting lights onto the inside of a dome. A planetarium technician performs a variety of “behind the scenes” duties to ensure that all the technical aspects of a presentation work together smoothly and effectively. These specialists install, operate, and maintain sound and projection equipment, making any necessary modifications to create the desired effects. In addition, planetarium technicians make sure that the background music is synchronized with the visual display and commentary, often selecting the music themselves. They also use their knowledge of electroscopic equipment and systems to create and install special effects that enhance the educational and entertainment value of the presentation.

Research mechanics

Research mechanics, also known as laboratory test mechanics, assist aerospace engineers in uncovering design or production flaws when testing new aircraft parts and assemblies. They are responsible for creating, assembling, and testing these parts according to the specifications called for by the design engineers. In addition, research mechanics operate the test equipment and devices, gathering vital information on the performance of each component under various flight and operational conditions. Once they have performed the necessary tests, research mechanics record and interpret all the results, reporting their findings to the design engineering team.

Satellite systems engineers

Satellite systems engineers are involved in the many facets of designing, producing, maintaining, and monitoring artificial satellite systems. Artificial satellites are manufactured objects that continuously orbit the earth or some other body in space. They provide important information about other planets and solar systems, as well as our own planet’s weather patterns. Satellites also serve an important role in worldwide telecommunications by transmitting calls, computer data, and radio signals across the oceans. In addition to planning and designing these complex and highly technical systems, satellite systems engineers are responsible for ensuring that they operate properly at all times. These specialists work in ground control centers situated in remote locations around the world. The engineers are part of a team of specialists who monitor the satellite’s position, send instructions to its computers, and retrieve the information collected by the satellite.

Stress analysts

Stress analysts are responsible for ensuring that the structural components of an aircraft or spacecraft can withstand the stress imposed during its operation. In addition, stress analysts formulate mathematical models, design computer simulation systems, and develop new methods for testing and analyzing stress. To evaluate a component, stress analysts perform tests on prototype equipment and systems. Prototypes are specially made, one-of-a-kind models upon which all future production is based. Throughout their testing procedures, stress analysts look at the strength and bending characteristics of each part and assembly, as well as its entire framework. They also review preliminary design concepts and specifications with other members of the engineering team.