Monday 14th September 2020

The largest rocket ever launched from mainland Britain will contain engineering work crafted by a Royal Air Force technician based at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire.

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

Luke completed a work experience placement with Starchaser Industries last week. Established in 1998 Starchaser Industries Ltd is a technology company that specialises in the development, operation and commercialisation of space related products and services.

Starchaser enables new space related opportunities by providing safe, reliable, affordable and reusable access to space for the space tourism and micro-satellite launch markets. Work experiences like this enable RAF personnel to experience different ways of working and bring something new back to the workplace.

SAC(T) Luke Marston at work on the Nova 2 rocket capsule.

RAF Workshop Technicians are trained to engineer a piece of bare metal into a vital aircraft spare. At Starchaser, Luke helped to design an in-flight fin system to stabilise their Nova 2 rocket capsule. At 13 metres tall, the Nova 2 rocket will be the largest 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.”

Luke’s placement was arranged through RAF Astra. Astra is all about building the next-generation air force, by developing the potential of its people, equipment and networks. Luke’s placement is an example of how Astra is using different experiences to develop the talents of RAF personnel.

Steven Bennet is the Chief Executive Officer of Starchaser Industries. He 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.”

No 71 (IR) Squadron is a specialist engineering unit. Its main roles are to repair damaged structure on UK fixed wing military aircraft at home and abroad, and non-destructive testing on all military aircraft types. The Squadron has its own designers, who devise solutions where ordinary fixes may not be effective.

Group Captain Jo Lincoln is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering. She 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.”

Feature image by SAC Jack Welson at RAF Wittering.
Nova 2 image by kind permission of Starchaser Industries.

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