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Vinita Madill

Space Operations Engineer
European Space Agency, Netherlands

Vinita Madill

Country of Birth: United Kingdom
Country of Residence: Netherlands
Educational Background: BSc in Mathematics and in Physics with Astrophysics; MSc in Astronautics and Space Engineering; MSc in Space Management

 

I realized my passion at a young age and told my physics teacher in Year 7 that I wanted to work in NASA’s Mission Control. I was supported throughout my education and 12 years later, I fulfilled my dream, working on International Space Station (ISS) operations at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Germany’s answer to NASA’s Mission Control—and now at ESA.

While studying physics at university, I learned about UKSEDS (UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space). I met space professionals for the first time, some of whom I actually went on to work with. I also completed a nine-week course called the Space Studies Program at the International Space University (ISU), where I decided that I wanted to work on human spaceflight operations.

I’m a space operations engineer working on future human spaceflight projects, including the European Robotic Arm (ERA). I work on developing the operations for the project, including preparing a smaller version of Mission Control at ESA’s technology center, ESTEC, and astronaut training. Once ERA launches I’ll work on-console at ESTEC and from Mission Control in Moscow on robotic arm operations and supporting the spacewalks conducted by the astronauts and cosmonauts onboard the ISS.

It was a challenge to know how to get into the industry initially and finding out what an operations engineer’s job actually entails. Meeting someone working in a subject or industry that you’re interested in when you’re making early career decisions can make a big difference.

Gaining a comprehensive view of the space industry through UKSEDS, ISU, and focused internships/volunteering helped forge the path to where I am now. Most everyone I know in the space industry feels like their future career was unknown at times, but pursuing your passion and persevering are important. Young people considering a career in space should pay attention to what their passion is for.

I run a website called Rocket Women, which aims to inspire the next generation to choose a career in STEM, through providing advice and highlighting the work of trailblazing women in STEM today.

View more 2019 profiles