18 July 2017 Community

Why the space programme needs civil engineers

Civil engineers and the roles they play in space

Many children dream of working as part of the space programme. The very young want to be astronauts and travel through space, exploring new planets. As they get older, they realise that only a small minority of people becomes astronauts and that space travel isn’t what they once imagined.

But many still want to work in the field. It’s exciting and there is no better industry when it comes to making new discoveries and changing the world.

These people look at other careers within the space programme and consider work in astronomy, science, engineering or computer science. Very few think of civil engineering. However, civil engineers play a huge role in the space programme.

Civil engineers are working on designing the structures of future space travel so this is the perfect time to get started with a civil engineering degree online from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Here is a look at what civil engineers do and why an online civil engineering degree could one day see you working in the space programme.

Command centres

Civil engineers work at designing, building and maintaining structures such as roads, buildings, airports, and industrial developments. They look at the foundations, identifying and solving any problems before building work starts. They then find ways to make processes more efficient and cost-effective as the project continues.

One place they could do this work for the space programme is the design and manufacture of command centres for space projects. These centres must be large enough to house different departments, as well as runways, warehouses and hangers, so it can be an interesting job.

Launch platforms

Another area where a civil engineer’s skills are invaluable is the creation of launch platforms. A launch platform is used to launch spacecraft both into and beyond Earth’s atmosphere. This is a challenging job as there are many different factors, such as weight and fuel supply lines to be considered.

Space stations

Civil engineers aren’t just needed for structures on Earth. They also work with structural engineers, astrophysicists and scientists to design space stations, in much the same way as they would work on an oil rig on Earth.

Space elevators

Proposed space elevators are long cables, fixed on Earth near the equator and reaching out into space, for transporting payloads into low Earth orbit and back. They have the potential to reduce the cost and time of space access enormously. While this may seem like a thing for the future, there are already patents and designs in place, which civil engineers will be helping with.


Terraforming is the process of making another planet hospitable for human life. We’ve all seen it in movies and it is not something that is likely to be needed for quite some time. However, those working in the space programme are researching ways to make terraforming possible, efficient and successful. Civil engineers are already working in the field but, in the future, when terraforming is essential to our exploration of other planets, civil engineers will have a much bigger role to play.

Some of these things may seem like the distant future, but they are very much in development now.

Interested? For more information, visit the New Jersey Institute of Technology

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