- Exciting, boundary-pushing work taking commercial flights into space
- There are many risks and this is a high-pressure role
- You'll need excellent maths and science skills to get started
As commercial space flights are becoming a possibility for the first time, there are new opportunities for pilots and other specialists to work in the space industry beyond the traditional government organisations like NASA.
As with many astronauts, commercial space pilots will often have a background as pilots in the military and/or will have significant experience as a commercial pilot before moving into this kind of work.
As a commercial space pilot you'll be involved in developing spacecraft and conducting test flights, then piloting commercial flights into space.
This is a hugely exciting time for space exploration and in a role like this you would be at the heart of the development of commercial space flight practice and operations.
The dawn of commercial space flight opens up the possibility to go into space to many more people, and while becoming an astronaut as part of a government space programme is extremely difficult and competitive, this new industry will open up more opportunities for pilots to go into space.
You'll need excellent maths and science ability (particularly physics), a strong sense of responsibility, and an ability to stay calm under pressure.
The typical route into this role is to first become a pilot, usually in the military, and it is often test pilots - those who have the highest technical competence and ability to stay calm under pressure - who move into space-related roles. You can start by applying to join the RAF pilot programme after doing A Levels and progress from there. The commercial space pilots who have been recruited so far have a military background but may also then have gone on to pilot commercial flights so they have a blend of skills and experience to bring to the role.
This kind of role is very new and challenging but as the industry grows there are likely to be more positions available.