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This apprenticeship standard is in development and is not yet ready to use

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Reference Number: ST0855

Details of standard

This apprenticeship standard is currently in development and its contents are subject to change

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in the space sector, and specifically the "upstream" (manufacturing) area, which covers the design and production of satellites and the components and subsystems they comprise, along with production, operation and maintenance of highly specialised ground support equipment which does not fly in space but is used to support development and testing of satellites before launch.


The upstream element of the industry is part of the overall space sector and is related to but distinct from the "downstream" part of the sector, which is concerned with the exploitation of data from satellites for end-user applications including weather forecasting and telecommunications. Income for the whole UK space sector has grown significantly and the upstream segment has been the majority contributor to the overall growth of the sector. This growth and the future predictions means there will be a significant increase in demand for these specialist skills to support the UK Space manufacturing sector. Space is a key part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy supporting the development and increases in productivity of other key sectors (e.g. Agribusiness, Transport and Health, through improve data provision and communications). Government has committed funding to new developments supporting the upstream sector through investments to establish UK space ports, a satellite launch capability and an investment in the National Satellite Test Facility at Harwell. The broad purpose of the occupation is to support the development, manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing of complex, high value space hardware and ground-based equipment. For example, satellite mechanical structures, and subsystems for in-space power generation and distribution, spacecraft attitude control, thermal control, rocket propulsion, space communication, sensors, planetary landers, and associated support systems. Space technicians interpret drawings/specifications and formal procedures imposed by the employer and customers (for example Space Agencies) to plan and perform their work. They use sector-specific techniques for many tasks, for example electronics board soldering, which is carried out using processes and standards developed specifically for space applications. They contribute to inspection and testing activities for mission-critical satellites and sub-assemblies, and support activities such as integration and testing of assemblies at space technology centres and launch sites overseas. In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with line managers/supervisors, procurement officers, systems engineers, spacecraft subsystems experts, commercial and export managers, and the overall team working on a particular satellite or mission. They interact with customers (for example, space agencies and satellite operators) during site visits. Space technicians typically work in secure and controlled environments, workshops and development areas, as well as regular offices. An employee in this occupation will be responsible for the quality and accuracy of the work they undertake within the limits of their personal authority. They adhere to statutory regulations and organisational health and safety requirements, and have an awareness of, and carry out work in compliance with, standards imposed by key customers (for example space agencies) and regulatory bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or The European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS).

Typical job titles

Typical job titles include Satellite Manufacturing, Assembly, Integration & Test Technician; Advanced Manufacturing Technician; Quality & Product Assurance Technician; Spacecraft Mechanical Engineering Technician; Electrical / Electronic Engineering Technician; Materials & Chemical Engineering Technician; Control & Instrumentation Engineering Technician; Spacecraft Propulsion Engineering Technician.

Entry requirements


Typical entry requirement is a minimum of 5 GCSE's Including English, Mathematics and Science-based subjects in C-A* or 4-9 except mathematics (B-A* or 6-9)

Occupation duties



Duty 1 Plan, prepare and carry out inspection, fabrication or assembly of spacecraft components and subsystems to meet required specification and quality requirements in appropriately controlled environments.

K2 K7 K8 K10 K11 K13 K14 K18

S1 S3 S5 S8 S9 S11 S12 S14 S15 S16 S19

B1 B2 B4 B6 B7

Duty 2 Deal with problems that occur within the activity (such as unexpected behaviour of a component or assembly, incorrect fitting of parts or missing procedural information in a process being undertaken) in line with responsibilities of the role in a structured and controlled approach.

K5 K9 K18

S5 S6 S8 S9 S12 S19

B1 B2 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 3 Complete documentation (such as Non Conformance Reports and Technical Build Records) at the appropriate stages of the work activity.

K3 K9 K12 K14

S1 S2 S6 S7 S8 S9

B1 B2

Duty 4 Review processes and procedures to identify improvements to quality and efficiency of e.g. products and processes, including the generation of Engineering Change Requests.

K5 K9 K12

S1 S6 S7 S8 S9 S14 S17 S19

B2 B3 B6

Duty 5 Contribute to definition of spacecraft and subsystem Integration / Validation / Verification & Qualification plans, procedures and presentation of test results to support correlation including space-specific testing such as vibration, thermal vacuum and electromagnetic compatibility testing.

K1 K3 K4 K5 K6 K10 K12 K14 K18

S1 S2 S5 S6 S8 S9 S19

B1 B7

Duty 6 Carry out Integration and Testing activities at subsystem and spacecraft, launch vehicle and ground level (for example, performing a functional test of a communications subsystem; participating in the installation of a subsystem within the complete spacecraft; monitoring of  subsystems during comprehensive system testing).

K1 K3 K4 K6 K7 K15 K16 K17 K18

S3 S9 S10 S12 S15 S17 S18 S19

B1 B2 B4 B5

Duty 7 Operate equipment, subsystems and systems (such as analysis tools, ground support equipment and flight assemblies) in compliance with written operational procedures.

K4 K6 K15 K17

S3 S4 S9 S12 S16

B5 B6

Duty 8 Build and test precision components and assemblies such as electronics boards, deployment mechanisms and fuel/cooling pipework to design specifications.

K7 K8 K11 K13 K15 K17

S3 S10 S11 S12 S15


Duty 9 Carry out inspection activities on equipment, components and systems (for example, use of microscopes to inspect electronics assemblies; helium leak testing of thermal-vacuum chambers, thermal cycling and optical alignment).

K2 K9 K10 K14 K17

S1 S3 S8 S9 S10 S13 S15 S16

B1 B2 B7

Duty 10 Monitor, test, fault-find and maintain manufacturing plant and equipment (such as thermal vacuum chambers, composite layup systems, and soldering stations) and carry out scheduled service activities on production infrastructure.

K2 K7 K10 K11 K14 K16 K17

S4 S12 S13 S16 S17 S18

B2 B4 B7




K1: Spacecraft Systems including power, attitude control, thermal, communications, data handling and propulsion.

K2: Engineering mathematical and scientific principles, methods, techniques, graphical expressions, symbols, formulae and calculations including: reference frame definitions, tolerancing, torque settings.

K3: Relationships between customers, partners & suppliers in the international space engineering and manufacturing sector.

K4: Space system assembly, integration and test procedures, processes, techniques and tools such as vibration, thermal-vacuum, electromagnetic compatibility.

K5: Purpose of approved processes, components, parts and materials lists and verification control documentation.

K6: Ground Support Equipment and Systems including electrical/electronic test equipment and mechanical handling equipment.

K7: Mechanical, Electrical and Electronic Analysis & Testing principles, including space industry-specific test standards.

K8: Properties, handling and application of space qualified materials including Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) precautions.

K9: Quality and Product Assurance principles in space projects.

K10: Principles, processes and techniques for thermal-vacuum, electromagnetic compatibility, shock, vibration and acoustic testing.

K11: Principles of Additive Manufacturing for application in space including powder quality and repeatability of build.

K12: Configuration and Document Management Control Processes including issue control, incorporation of change and End Item Data Pack.

K13: Adhesives, bonding, soldering and fastening techniques required to meet space qualification standards.

K14: The space environment including thermal, vacuum, radiation, atomic oxygen and launch operations.

K15: Precision and uncertainty in measurement systems, including limitations and appropriate use.

K16: Vacuum and pressurised systems and measurement.

K17: Disciplines and handling in cleanliness and contamination-controlled environments.

K18: Application of Risk Assessment at point of work.


S1 Prepare and complete documentation including work instruction, build and change records, risk assessments and non-conformance reports in compliance with applicable space industry processes and standards.

S2 Contribute to technical reviews such as assembly, integration and test readiness, and non-conformance reviews.

S3 Assemble, integrate and test at equipment, subsystem and system level.

S4 Support and maintain ground support systems for spacecraft and subsystems.

S5 Interpret outputs from manufacturing software such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) / Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) and Product Data Management / Product Lifecycle Management (PDM/PLM).

S6 Solve problems using procedures and methodologies commonly applied in the space engineering sector, such as Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle, 8-Disciplines (8D), Ishikawa/Fishbone Diagrams.

S7 Contribute to the definition of space engineering process improvement plans.

S8 Use internal and external Quality Management Systems including Non-Conformance Reports (NCRs), Production Documentation, and published standards applicable to space engineering and manufacture such as EN9100, ISO9001.

S9 Read, extract and interpret technical documentation (such as workplans/project plans, schedules, drawings, test plans, specifications, production data, quality reports, costing data, statistical information, assembly instructions and requirements) drawing accurate conclusions and making informed decisions, seeking clarification where required.

S10 Perform electrical and electronic measurement and testing using equipment such as voltmeters, spectrum analysers, oscilloscopes.

S11 Perform appropriate joining techniques for example using adhesives, bonding, plating, soldering and fastening, following procedures for space quality standards.

S12 Carry out assembly and functional testing of products such as electronics boards and mechanical assemblies, to design specifications and space industry standards.

S13 Inspect electrical, mechanical or electronic equipment for quality assurance purposes.

S14 Use CAD software to create 3D models and part drawings to enable manufacture of components for spacecraft systems and ground support equipment.

S15 Apply space industry procedures in facilities such as cleanrooms, workshops and testing facilities (for example, ECSS-Q-ST-70-50C: Particles contamination monitoring for spacecraft systems and cleanrooms) in compliance with legislative and company Health, Safety and Environment requirements.

S16 Measure, test and analyse, using instruments such as pressure gauges, micrometers, balances and non-contact approaches.

S17 Use and maintain vacuum and pressure systems for space applications (such as environmental test chambers, pressure-fed propulsion systems, and gas supply lines for manufacturing & testing) including associated processes and documentation such as Piping & Instrumentation Diagrams.

S18 Use and maintain cryogenic systems for space applications (such as propulsion, subsystem thermal control and ground support activities) including associated processes and documentation, in compliance with legislative and company Health, Safety and Environment requirements.

S19 Communicate using verbal and written methods such as for formal and informal presentations, written reports and electronic dissemination, adjusting approach to take account of equality and diversity considerations, and listen to others.


B1: Takes personal responsibility and is resilient. For example, disciplined and responsible approach to risk, works diligently regardless of how much they are being supervised, accepts responsibility for managing their own time and workload and stays motivated and committed when facing challenges.

B2: Focuses on quality and problem solving. For example, demonstrates attention to detail and seeks opportunities to improve quality, speed and efficiency.

B3: Committed to continuous personal improvement. For example, reflects on skills, knowledge and behaviours and seeks opportunities to develop, adapts to different situations, environments or technologies and has a positive attitude to feedback and advice.

B4: Is responsible and accountable. For example, is present in the workplace at the required times, completes all assigned tasks and takes responsibility for the duties assigned to the role. Shows a desire to succeed, approaches difficult or challenging problems with enthusiasm, shows initiative and supports the success of the team/organisation.

B5: Performs through co-operation and works effectively in teams. For example, has a clear understanding of role; voluntarily engages in open communication with team colleagues and line management; identifies individual contributions that can be made to reach collective goals; supports meetings and work sessions on request. Adopts a positive attitude to working with others, and supports discussion with facts and logic, and considers implications of their actions on other people and the business.

B6: Interacts appropriately with stakeholders. For example, works to understand stakeholder requirements and perspectives, and can present work positively and with confidence.

B7: Uses a safety-first approach in order to comply with legislative and company Health, Safety and Environment requirements.


English and Maths qualifications

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment.  For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL. 

Professional recognition

IET / Engineering Technician

IMechE / Engineering Technician

Royal Aeronautical Society / Engineering Technician

Additional details

Occupational Level: 4
Duration (months): 48


This standard will be reviewed after three years.

Crown copyright © 2019. You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. Visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence

Status: In development
Proposal approved Standard approved Assessment plan approved
Level: 4
Reference: ST0855
Version: 1
Date updated: 23/08/2019
Route: Engineering and manufacturing
Trailblazer contact(s): roy.haworth@airbus.com nb101@le.ac.uk
Employers involved in creating the standard: Airbus Defence & Space Ltd, University of Leicester, BAE Systems PLC, Thales Alenia Space UK, Nammo Westcott Ltd, Reaction Engines Ltd, Oxford Space Systems

Version log

Version Date updated Change Previous version
1 23/08/2019 Standard first published

Not available