A giant leap for student-kind

Three of our students are going to boldly embark on a career-making opportunity to work on new space technologies with one of Europe’s leading space companies, OHB System AG.

Adam Welch, Christopher Grace and Kyle Hoult-Ellingworth are students on the University of Leicester’s Space Exploration Systems MSc programme. They have been selected by OHB System AG to work for 18 months with the company and Life Sciences partner Blue Horizon Sarl, Luxemburg, on a study to develop a miniature lander system for future commercial exploration of the moon.

The three are part of an international student team selected for one of the first industrial-academic projects to be run under a new programme, Advanced Student Team Research in space Industry (ASTRI), launched by Jean-Jacques Dordain, former Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Flying to the Munich site of OHB System AG for the project launch, which takes place today Tuesday 24 April, they will begin a six-month long postgraduate research project at OHB, with the support of academics in the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, as the concluding part of their one-year MSc studies.

The students will have the exclusive opportunity to work with OHB experts at sites across Europe, on the whole range of spacecraft technologies including propulsion, communications, power and on-board computing systems, to begin the work of designing the moon lander.

Following this six month phase, they will be offered a 12 month engineer contract with the company to continue development of the spacecraft, and have the opportunity to compete for a permanent contract with the company at the end of the study.

Adam said: “I can’t wait to directly apply what I have learnt from the Master’s course in an industrial environment, finalising into a complete, commercial product. It is my hope that this programme will be the perfect starting point for a future career in the space industry for myself and my colleagues.”

Chris said: “Being selected for the ASTRI project is an amazing opportunity for me to get some real world experience in the space industry and apply the knowledge I have gained while at university. I am really excited about getting to work with the engineers at OHB and I hope that we will be able to take this project to completion and see our final design built and launched to the moon!”

Kyle said: “We are all excited to start the project, we think that this opportunity with OHB is a perfect bridge between our Master’s studies and joining the professional space science industry.”

OHB System AG is one of the three leading space companies in Europe. It belongs to listed high-tech group OHB SE, where around 2,400 specialists and executives work on key European space programmes. OHB’s commercial micro moon lander is an example of the revolution which is occurring in the 21st century space sector – an era often referred to as “Space 4.0” or “New Space”, in which private companies are now major players in the development of satellites and launchers.

Dr Nigel Bannister, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “I’m so excited for Adam, Christopher and Kyle to embark upon their journey with OHB, it’s a truly fantastic achievement.

“The objective of the Space Explorations MSc course is to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge that will be required by the industry in this era of "New Space". Working with OHB and Blue Horizon will ensure that these students are among the best qualified in a new generation of space scientists and engineers."