Jessica Housden

waiting to see who's won...

Favourite Thing: Solving problems! I love having a problem that requires thinking about from lots of different ways. And, being amazed by the wonderful things that are being discovered all the time. My favourite thing to do at the moment is to show people how we design spacecraft and space missions, and the science that can be done from space. I think space and space application is a fascinating area and the UK has such a huge involvement that very few people know about!



Hitchin Girls’ 1995-2002


BSc Physics with Space Research, University of Birmingham: MSc Spacecraft Technology and Satellite Communications, UCL.

Work History:

GlaxoSmithKline, Local Pubs ASDA then work proper after University!


EADS Astrium Ltd

Current Job:

Spacecraft Systems Engineer – EarthCARE Mission

Me and my work

I design spacecraft that do cool science, helping us understand climate change.

I work for a company that designs and builds satellites (or spacecraft as they’re called if they are going to a different part of the Solar System).  My job is to work on a mission on the engineering side and make sure it is going to all work together.  It can take many years for a mission to go from idea to completion, so there are lots of things to think about!  I am particularly interested in Earth Observation and climate change and have been involved studies for instruments that will help to detect this from Space.

My Typical Day

Well, different all the time; lots of talking to people and dealing with different problems and potntial solutions!

As the systems engineer for the mission, it is my job to ensure that the spacecraft will work once it all comes together. Most parts are designed by different people, for example the strucure, thermal design and propulsion system. As the design evolves, many things change and so I need to work out the best solutions for the spacecraft overall; not just for each small section. To do this, I might need to do some analysis, using information form lots of places. Or, I might need to talk to people and then make decisions. Other aspect sof my work are to bring new ideas to the design, which might onvolve something that has never been used in Space before. I also take days out of my work to talk to scientists about climate change instruments and go into schools and universities as well. Often we will have people visit where I work and i enjoy showing them all the spacecraft that are being built at the moment. Everyone loves the Mars Rover that we are designing here to go to Mars; the current prototype, Bruno, has a warehouse sandpit to play in as he is tested!

What I'd do with the money

Two things; one is to sponsor a local school I have been working with to get to the National Space Centre as they can’t afford the coach at the moment and the other is to set up some days ‘Science Busking’ in public places.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Imaginative, quirky, adventurous

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Florence and the Machine

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Kitesurfing 250km down the Brazilian coast with friends last year – so cool to get from A to B via kite power!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

See the world, see my spaceraft launced successfully and meet lots of interesting people.

What did you want to be after you left school?

Anything to do with space!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Not really, although I was never very good at handing homework in on time!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Hmm, tricky! I actually the the best things are talking to people about sciene, but my biggest achievements are certainly seeing my solutions incorporated into the design of a spacecraft.

Tell us a joke.