“I knew I wanted to be an astronaut. I was so fascinated with outer space that I spent hours reading about the solar system and was determined to go explore the galaxy,” she said.
The height requirements for the job – as well as her fear of heights – scuttled her chances of blasting off to the stars, but she still found a way to pursue her passion. Today, she’s an engineer at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, where she works in support of Earth-observing satellites and one day aims to help revolutionize space exploration.
Her story echoes that of so many others at the company who turned their early fascination with space into their profession.
Never let go of childhood enthusiasm
In high school, Michael Weber thought he wanted a career that would never require him to think hard.
That changed in an instant.
“I watched a livestream of a 15-story rocket booster plummeting from space. During the last seconds, its engines ignited and (it) gracefully landed upright in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” he said. “This was the moment I decided to become an aerospace engineer.”
Weber recently completed a co-op in Quality Engineering at Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business, where he worked on the same kinds of programs that once provided him such awe-inspiring moments. He’s hoping to rejoin Raytheon Technologies someday.
For Jared Bartels, what hooked him on space was that he could see it with perfect clarity just about every night growing up in rural Nebraska.
“I was able to look up at the night sky and see the endless expanse of stars and the Milky Way. This fueled my desire to explore and work within the aerospace industry,” he said.
This led him to an internship– and eventually a full-time job at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, supporting GPS OCX – the ground control system for GPS satellites. Today, he is a part of the Mission Management Command and Control program team, which provides automated constellation management.
Does any of this sound like your kind of job? See if we have a space career for you.
Having fun being “Space Pirates”
For Julie Strickland, mentoring interns is more than just a way to teach – it’s a way to learn.
With one patent awarded and six patents pending, Strickland works on the Spaceflight Agile Rapid Development program, which seeks ways to mitigate the moon dust that clings to spacesuits – the astronaut equivalent to the static cling of a sock right out of the dryer.
Strickland learned that dust is negatively charged and needs to be neutralized and collected. Working with her interns, one of them added a dust collector like those used in flue stacks. That modest little modification may one day make its way to the moon.
And if that’s not fun enough, just consider how her team, which refers to the program by the acronym SARD, talks about itself.
“SARD is pronounced like a pirate’s growl, so the team members call us Space Pirates. While pirates know little about soil, lunar dust mitigation is one area in particular that needs attention.”
The importance of hiring for space programs
There are many ways to make breakthroughs, but they all start and end with employees. Across the company, hiring the right people for the right role is critical – particularly for space programs.
“We do incredible things in the space domain that very few companies can, but we need the right people for the right roles,” said Douglas Greene, business leader for Talent Acquisition at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “For our organization to be successful long-term, it's critical we hire en masse these unique individuals who understand not only hardware, software or systems, but gravity, atmosphere, vacuums, debris, radiation and charged particles. Ultimately, people are the most critical asset and investment of any company.”