Institution of Mechanical Engineers IMechE

Delivering UK space capability into orbit

05 May 2011

It takes some extraordinary mechanical engineering to send ships into space and to service the payload successfully. This is why much of the focus for space projects these days is on the carrying capacity of spacecraft and the electronics.

Space is a very unforgiving setting. The harsh mechanical launch environment is magnified by the need for long, reliable operational life. Repair is highly unlikely so equipment has to work first time, every time. However building in redundancy, in terms of money and accommodation, is expensive. The launch mass also increases, which is equally costly. Extensive design-and-test costs money and time, and so the juggling act of the engineering manager begins.

In order to meet these challenges, engineers need the right skills as they migrate from a purely technical focus into management.

Using examples from the UK’s largest and most complex military satellite system – Skynet 5, scientific satellites such as Aeolus, Lisa Pathfinder and ExoMars Rover – Patrick Wood will explain how engineering managers can overcome these hurdles to meet the requirements of quality, schedule and cost, while managing the risks and contingency funding to meet high operational targets.

About the speaker: Patrick Wood

Patrick Wood started in the electronics industry in 1986, working with land and naval-based radar detection equipment. In 1994 he joined Vickers Medical as a Project and Engineering Manager in electro-encephalography.

Patrick joined Astrium Satellites 15 years ago and has been involved with military and commercial spacecraft at equipment, platform and payload level. Prior to Skynet, he worked as Head of Programmes for the navigation business unit, working on projects such as Galileo and EGNOS. He was Programme Director of Skynet 5 for almost seven years.

Following its successful completion Patrick became the Chief Technical Officer for Astrium Satellites, recently becoming their Head of Operations as well as Managing Director of Astrium Satellites UK.

Patrick is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and has been Vice President of the Stevenage Branch since 2003.


Space lecture

: Patrick Wood, Managing Director, Astrium Satellites UK

Duration: 1 hr 15 mins