Hire me!

astronomy, BIS, communication, science, science communication, SGAC, space exploration, UKSEDS, UNAWE

Hello there!

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or my blog, you may already know a bit about me and my activities. I’m currently looking out for possible writing opportunities in science, physics and astronomy. If you’ve reached here and you’re someone looking for pitches, I’d be interested in the types of stories you have the most urgent need to fill!

My name is Ryan Laird, a science communicator from the UK and active #spacetweep. Since the start of January, I have been working as a Science Communication Intern at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) — the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. Based in Garching near Munich, Germany, I am working in ESO’s ePOD (education and Public Outreach Department) with a team of professional science communicators for the preparation of ESO, European Space Agency (ESA)/Hubble Space Telescope and International Astronomical Union (IAU) news and photo releases, publications, web pages, video scripts, exhibition panels and other public communication products. In addition, I have been actively supporting communication regarding the ESO Ultra HD expedition and am a ghostwriter for the UHD blog. I’ve become used to the fast pace dynamic and accuracy as required in this role.

I am a recent Graduate of the International Space University (ISU)‘s Space Studies Programme 2013 (SSP13), where I received generous support from the UK Space Agency and ESA. I am also a graduate of the University of Leicester, UK where obtained the degree of Physics with Astrophysics MPhys (Hons).

I have cherished many different opportunities to apply my skills and knowledge in a variety of areas including UKSEDS, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), Universe Awareness (UNAWE), ESO and the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), among industry experts, university departments and other research organisations. I have also been actively involved in research and academia, having co-authored in the journal Nature — Snodgrass, C. et al., Nature, 467, 814-816 (2010), among others, gaining experience in the planetary sciences while researching Jupiter Family Comets.

I recently helped support the UNAWE International Office in Leiden, Netherlands where my main role was to expand the concept of Space Scoop (astronomy news for kids) to a diverse range of media platforms and syndicate the content. Here I investigated the best way to improve the syndication and distribution of science content produced for and by children to mainstream children’s media. I also wrote a number of Space Scoop articles and reviews of space content for kids.

Last year I also supported SGAC at their office in Vienna, Austria at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI). There I supported SGAC’s network of over 4000 members across more than 90 countries. In this capacity, I helped organise the Space Generation Fusion Forum, preparing and editing the SGAC Annual Report, supporting general operations, web content and administration.

I also regularly write for the British Interplanetary Society‘s magazine, Spaceflight and as Vice Chair (formerly Secretary), I prepare content for UKSEDS‘ media. In addition, I maintain my own website here at rjmlaird.co.uk where I write some of my own musings in a blog, along with some space news and is where you can find additional information about me and my work.

Together my experiences have provided a me with a great range of expertise, which I’d be keen to use in a capacity to further promote astronomy, space and physics to a much wider audience — subjects very close to my heart. To further acquaint you with the specifics of my background you can view my CV from my website here (also downloadable as a .pdf and viewable on LinkedIn), along with my activities and publications which show some of my writing samples.

Also View Ryan Laird's profile on LinkedIn is where you can see some recommendations on my work. Most recently my Head of Department  (ePOD) here at ESO, Lars Lindberg Christensen, wrote me a reference downloadable here as .pdf. I am happy to provide further references if needed.

Do please get in touch if you know of or have any opportunities available.

Report: National Student Space Conference 2014

astronomy, human spaceflight, ISU, science, science communication, SGAC, UKSEDS


On 1st and 2nd March, space enthusiasts descended on the University of Leicester for the UKSEDS National Student Space Conference 2014. Aimed at UK students, each year the conference is a key opportunity to meet and network with a wide range of people in the space sector from academia to industry, across multiple disciplines. It is also a great time for students from UKSEDS’ various branches to meet together in one place and discuss their activities. This year the event was in its 26th year.

The conference was a real sell-out once again with over 250 delegates* from many UKSEDS branches spanning the width and breadth of the country — from Edinburgh to Kent to Southampton, Exeter, Manchester and Strathclyde. We were also happy to welcome our international friends at SEDS-USA and EUROAVIA once again. We had a great range of talks throughout the weekend from spaceplanes to cubesats, ISS, outreach and education, space biomedicine, astronomy, Mars and beyond.

Highlights included a talk by British ESA Astronaut Major Tim Peake who Skyped in from Houston to talk about his mission alongside the outreach components of his mission, along with Jeremy Curtis (Head of Education and Outreach, UK Space Agency) (See featured image**). There was a good chance of a Q&A and for delegates to engage with Tim. He revealed how his mission is being prepared and how his food and drinks will be sent up in advance, sharing his love of Yorkshire Tea. Sheffield SEDS (ShefSEDS) tweeted this, amusingly re-tweeted and replied to by Yorkshire Tea:

It was great to see Tim enjoyed all the questions from the audience.

Our Saturday keynote included Prof. Richard Brown from the Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology, University of Strathclyde who gave a very inspiring talk on ‘Shock Waves and the Design of Future Spacecraft’.

Following this, delegates were invited to a networking reception, kindly sponsored by Reaction Engines Ltd. After which, delegates could attend the UKSEDS social and enjoy a tasty buffet meal and mingle with other delegates.

Sunday morning started with Dr David Parker (CEO, UK Space Agency) who spoke about the latest developments on UK Space activities.

CEO of UK Space Agency, Dr David Parker addressing NSSC2014. Credit: Prof. Chris Welch

Credit: Telespazio Vega DE

Throughout the weekend Telespazio Vega Deutschland demonstrated their Satellite Operations Training simulator, allowing delegates to simulate real in-­orbit satellite operations throughout the conference.

The conference would not have been possible without the kind sponsorship of Reaction Engines, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, UK Space Agency, HE Space, Printech Circuit Laboratories, Sapienza Consulting, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Royal Aeronautical Society, Serco Group, AstroGnome, International Space University, RAL Space, and Avanti Communications Group plc, and the support of the British Interplanetary Society, ESERO-UK, European Southern Observatory (ESO), ESA Education Office, AstRoSoc Leicester, University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy, Leicester Astronomical Society and EUROAVIA.

Many thanks also to all our wonderful speakers throughout the conference. Presentations will be made available on our conference site at: ukseds.org/nssc2014

If you have any photos from NSSC2014, please share them with us at pr@ukseds.org.

See you in 2015!

*figure includes all exhibitors, speakers and volunteers.
**Featured image: British ESA Astronaut, Tim Peake addressing NSSC2014. Credit: Jane MacArthur
Written by Ryan Laird for UKSEDS.

National Student Space Conference 2014


I am pleased to be co-organising the UKSEDS National Student Space Conference, which will be held at the University of Leicester on 1-2 March.

We have just released our second press release, which you can view here.

Registration is now open and we are pleased to announce Reaction Engines Ltd. as a Gold Sponsor. Further details about the conference will be announced in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

World Space Week – Call for Action!

astronomy, BIS, science, space exploration, UKSEDS, UNCOPUOS

“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”

UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999

Register your event!

wsw-logo-color-wsw-text_dates_white_backgroundUKSEDS are working with the British Interplanetary Society who are UK National Coordinators for World Space Week.

Holding a space event between 4-10 October? Register your events here!
For further information: worldspaceweek@bis-space.com

Mars_Earth_small“Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth”

World Space Week 2013 is all about what many consider the Next Frontier: the planet Mars. Humanity is quickly conquering this new frontier. Mars Curiosity is the largest rover ever brought to another planet, discovering new features of the Red Planet every day. Read here.

Mars-Picture-for-WSW-2013-300x117Call for Action!

Help us make this the biggest World Space Week yet!

What better way to start the week than with the Mars Society UK annual conference, on Sat 5th October at the National Space Centre, Leicester?

bis80The British Interplanetary Society South West Group will be holding lectures at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute.

The British Interplanetary Society will be finishing World Space Week in style by celebrating its 80th birthday on Saturday 12th October in Liverpool.

Run your own event! There are lots of great FREE resources to inspire you and help your ideas take off.

Posted also to ukseds.org (as Secretary)

Visit to Surrey Satellites Technology Ltd (SSTL)

travel, UKSEDS
Picture of SSTL logo.

Picture of SSTL logo at front of Kepler Building, SSTL.

Soon after my return to the UK, I was pleased to attend a tour of Surrey Satellites Technology Ltd (SSTL). Members of UKSEDS met at the site in Guildford, Surrey on 26th April.

Unfortunately we were not permitted to take photos inside the buildings themselves.

We were given an overview of the company, along with SSTL’s missions – those launched, those and those currently in development and manufacture, as well as careers at SSTL including their Graduate Development Programme.

We were told of the news of STRaND-1 – the world’s first “phonesat”; a nanosatellite carrying a smartphone (Google Nexus One) built in engineer’s free time and using advanced commercial off-the-shelf components.

Many images taken by satellites built by the company were on display throughout the buildings, many which can be viewed here. For example, NigeriaSAT-2 took a rather “familiar” image of the East-End of London, below.

Acquired by NigeriaSat-2 a few days before the Olympics 2012, this image shows the East End of the city of London including the Olympic Park  to the North of the Thames, London City Airport, London's flood defence - the Thames Barrier, and the Millenium Dome. Credit: NASRDA

Acquired by NigeriaSat-2 a few days before the Olympics 2012, this image shows the East End of the city of London including the Olympic Park to the North of the Thames, London City Airport, London’s flood defence – the Thames Barrier, and the Millenium Dome.
Credit: NASRDA

We were given a tour around Tycho House which accommodates the company’s mission analysis, engineering, project management, operations and administration teams. We could see their Mission Control Centre where in-orbit operations are performed.

Adjacent to the Tycho Building is the Kepler Building, SSTL’s technical facility which houses SSTL’s cleanrooms, test facilities and laboratories. Unfortunately the first Galileo satellite, just ready for transport to ESA was hidden away from public view on our visit.


UKSEDS members outside SSTL

Update 16 May 2013: “First New Galileo Satellite Arrives At ESA for Space Testing” http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Navigation/First_new_Galileo_satellite_arrives_at_ESA_for_space_testing