Postdoctoral Research Associate in CubeSat Design, Build, and Test

Tyne and Wear
09 Mar 2023
End of advertisement period
31 Mar 2023
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Physics & Astronomy
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Applications are invited for a 23-month postdoctoral research position in the area of small satellite (CubeSat) engineering, design, build and test. The successful candidate will work in the Department of Mathematics Physics and Electrical Engineering at Northumbria University, within the Northumbria Space Technology Laboratory. The candidate will work within a team preparing an in-orbit technology demonstration mission, for a novel laser communications system payload for CubeSats. For further information about the Northumbria Space Technology Laboratory see here:

This position is funded by UK Space Agency with grant reference number (UKSAG22_0042). The project focuses on the design, testing, and build of hardware and software for two 6U CubeSats to launch into Low Earth Orbit and demonstrate the function of a free space optical link between CubeSats. The project is led by Northumbria University and includes partners from Durham University, e2E Group and Smart Sentry SMS, as well as support from Lockheed Martin UK Space. The overall aim of the role is to lead the development of the laser-based optical communication payload, including design, simulation, testing and building of flight models including mechanical, electronic, and software interfaces with the CubeSat bus.

The ideal candidate should have experience and skills relating to CubeSat bus development. Therefore, a strong undergraduate degree in physical sciences or engineering, with experience in working within a laboratory environment, is essential. Candidates should have a PhD in physics or engineering or a track record of professional experience in aerospace and space technology research projects. Experience programming in C and with real time operating systems and / or experience of other similar space mission projects is essential. Experience with CAD and mechanical, thermal and orbital modelling of CubeSats in realistic atmospheres is desired. The role will include acceptance testing and assembly of parts and so the ability to design and follow work flows that test parts to meet specified requirements is also important. Environmental and system level tests of CubeSats will also be part of the project and so experience with or knowledge of using vibration, thermal vacuum and radio testing equipment is desirable.

For informal enquiries about this post, please contact Dr Robert Wicks on 

Further information about the requirements of the role is available in the person specification.

Closing Date:  31 March 2023
At Northumbria, we embrace tomorrow. We pursue new thinking, forge new partnerships, create, and exchange new knowledge, and find new solutions. Our inspirational academics, partners and students work together to tackle tomorrow’s challenges head on. We are ready for the future whatever it may hold. 
Awarded the title of University of the Year in the 2022 Times Higher Education Awards, Northumbria University is a research-intensive modern university with a global reputation for academic excellence. 
Northumbria recorded the biggest rise of any UK university for research power in the Research Excellence Framework for the second time in 2021 and is now ranked top 25 for this measure. 
One of the largest universities in the UK with over 37,000 students from 137 countries, filled with world-leading research, award-winning partnerships, and students at the heart of an outstanding experience, Northumbria is a new kind of excellent university.  Discover more about us.  
Northumbria University is a great place to work.  We empower our exceptional people to achieve shared ambitions and promote a positive work life balance.  To say thank you, we offer a wide range of benefits including excellent pension schemes, flexible working, a generous holiday entitlement, continued commitment to your learning and development and more
We are an on-campus organisation where colleagues work regular patterns of hours and on campus, with some flexibility on the timing of their hours and the location of their work in discussion with their manager. 
Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our staff.  We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community.  The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme.  We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers and are members of the Euraxess initiative to deliver information and support to professional researchers.  
The University has implemented a range of flexible working arrangements, and we are happy to explore candidate requirements as part of the recruitment process.