Human Exploration Programme Manager, UK Space Agency
What is your role?
I am the Human Exploration Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency. I look after the UK’s interests in the human exploration of space, not just on the International Space Station (ISS), but in other space environments here on Earth, such as parabolic flights.
How did you end up on this career path?
My interest has always been in space and human spaceflight in particular. For a long time, I didn’t realise you could have a career in the space industry, but when I found out I knew I wanted to be part of it. I did a physics degree then a master’s in space engineering.
Do not listen to anyone who says you shouldn’t be doing science. You only get one go at life, so do the things you enjoy.
My real passion was in human exploration, so I applied for a job at ESA and ended up working in mission control in Munich, eventually becoming a flight director, which was just like you see in the movies. Then, when Tim Peake was selected as an astronaut, I wanted to play a part in the UK’s efforts around his mission.
Growing up I didn’t think it would be possible to be a part of human spaceflight in the UK. That’s what led me to the UK Space Agency, where I managed the education programme for Tim Peake’s mission and now look after human exploration for the UK.
What advice would give those considering a science-based career?
The most important thing is to do what you enjoy because, if you enjoy it, you will do well at it and you will get job satisfaction. Do not listen to anyone who says you shouldn’t be doing science. You only get one go at life, so do the things you enjoy.
What does a day in the life look like for you?
It’s a varied job. I work with lots of different people, from the European Space Agency to scientists and industry here in the UK. Of course, Tim Peake is our current astronaut, so I stay in touch with him. We work closely with Tim to make sure the inspirational impact of his mission lives on. Human exploration is a powerful tool in shining a light on the huge variety of opportunities across the space sector.