RAF Wittering technician works on historic Starchaser rocket

Senior Aircraftman Technician (SAC(T)) Luke Marston, 22, is a member of the RAF Wittering Station workshops team, which is part of No 71 Inspection and Repair Squadron.

Recently, Luke completed a work experience placement with Starchaser Industries, a technology company that specialises in the development, operation and commercialisation of space-related products and services. Starchaser seeks to enable new space-related opportunities by providing safe, reliable and affordable access to space for the space tourism and micro-satellite launch markets.

This placement was arranged through RAF Astra, which works to develop the air force of the next generation; finding the potential of its people, equipment and networks. Work experience like this gives RAF personnel the opportunity to experience different ways of working. In doing so, men and women may bring something new back into their usual workspace.

RAF workshop technicians are trained to engineer a piece of bare metal into an aircraft spare, which gave Luke the knowledge and expertise to help design an in-flight fin system to stabilise the Nova 2 rocket capsule. This capsule is 13 metres tall and will be the largest rocket ever launched from the British mainland.

Luke, who joined the RAF in 2016, said: “It was an amazing experience, I never imagined I’d be working on a rocket. Even the idea that something you’re working on will go into space seems unbelievable, but it’s really happening. I just want to thank Steve at Starchaser for this opportunity.”

Steven Bennet, chief executive officer of Starchaser Industries, said: “Luke quickly became a valuable asset to the team where he used his knowledge of computer aided design to design a grid fin system which will be used to stabilise the Nova 2 capsule during flight. He also did a great job in our composites workshop, extremely impressed, we’d be more than happy to work with Luke in the future.”

The No 71 Inspection and Repair Squadron is a specialist engineering unit. The main roles of the unit are to repair damaged structure on UK fixed wing military aircraft at home and abroad, and non-destructive testing on all military aircraft types. Designers in this squadron devise solutions where ordinary fixes may not be effective.

Group Captain Jo Lincoln, station commander at RAF Wittering, said: “What an amazing work experience placement, thank you Starchaser Industries. Astra is going to make a positive impact on our people and the skills they bring to work every day. We’ve seen how well Luke has done and opportunities like this are the key to unlocking potential in all the trades in the RAF.”

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