Space systems engineers are part of the spacecraft program lifecycle from start to finish. Explore the skills needed for this career.

Systems engineer sits a modern desk with multiple screens

A systems engineer looks at screens

The Rundown

What do space systems engineers do?

Space systems engineers design, construct and test aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, satellites and equipment.

Space systems engineers are responsible for making sure that all of the subsystems in a spacecraft work together so that the spacecraft meets its objectives. They are part of the spacecraft program lifecycle from start to finish, including designing, building, testing and, sometimes, deploying the spacecraft.

What you’ll need to know and do

Space systems engineers have a technical understanding of all of the subsystems involved in a spacecraft, including the structural and electrical systems, thermal control, power and communication.

Most space systems engineers are senior engineers with a number of years of experience in the space industry. Space systems engineers also typically have an area of special expertise, such as:

  • aerostructures
  • aerodynamics
  • guidance and control
  • propulsion
  • optical systems
  • thermal systems.

Your study pathway

The minimum study requirement to work as a space systems engineer is typically a relevant undergraduate degree in engineering. Some employers may have further requirements, such as postgraduate qualifications or research in a particular specialty.

Degrees in the following study areas may also be relevant to becoming a space systems engineer:

  • aeronautical engineering
  • aerospace engineering
  • electrical or electronics engineering
  • mechanical engineering
  • mechatronics engineering
  • robotics engineering
  • systems engineering
  • telecommunications engineering.

Almost all universities in Australia offer degrees in engineering. Visit individual university websites for more information.


Key resources

Our key space career job roles and study pathways information is packaged up into downloadable PDFs that students, teachers or parents can easily browse through and keep as a handy reference.

Careers in space booklet image

Careers in space booklet

Our space career booklet covers all the space careers we talk about online, and can be downloaded by students, teachers or parents to read, share or use in the classroom.


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