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Kotska Oddie, MGC 1991 Leaver

My earliest dreams were of space and becoming an astronaut. After GCSEs I attended the first British Space School, where I visited universities that were conducting space research. Via that association I also travelled the following year to visit Russian space facilities. So when I joined the MGC Sixth Form I already had goals, involving the need for a Physics or Engineering degree and flying experience. In Malvern I transferred to the local RAF Cadets Corps, until then a male only preserve. During the summer break I learned to fly via an RAF flying scholarship and gained my Private Pilot’s Licence.

Sadly, when I finished my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, the UK was not participating in the manned space programme. I considered flying commercially, but was more attracted to the space industry. Continuing involvement with various Space Associations allowed me to identify where I wanted to work.

My first job was an assignment as sole physicist in a Geographical Information Systems section, utilising satellite optical and radar imagery. I pursued additional lines of work, desiring more hands-on experience with equipment, and eventually I was made Payload Manager for a small satellite.

While TopSat was mid-build I pursued an interesting job opportunity at the European Space Agency’s Technical Centre in The Netherlands and joined the Technical Directorate’s Optics Section. I ran various research contracts, particularly in the development of glass and silicon pore and x-ray focusing optics; and supported projects such as Fluid Science Lab, a facility which is still used on the International Space Station.

Currently, I am Optical Payload Manager for the EarthCARE satellite, responsible for three instruments of a large, ESA mission, for which the Japanese Space Agency is also supplying an instrument. My work covers numerous disciplines, co-operating with many international colleagues, and takes me around Europe, North America and Japan.

I am also a (divorced) mother of two lovely girls.

What does success look like?

Success is adapting and adjusting to a changing environment and circumstances to create a life that brings you happiness.

What is your best piece of advice?

Seek out and exploit opportunities, push your comfort zone and be a participator.

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