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Day in the Life of Serco Space Graduate Sarah AlHabbas

Published: 3 May 2024

Welcome to my first blog! I'm Sarah AlHabbas and I joined Serco's Space Graduate programme in November 2023. I began my journey in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and have recently moved to Darmstadt, Germany for further training leading up to my graduation in July. This has been an unforgettable journey so far and I wanted to share my experience and help inspire others to get a career in the space sector! Every two weeks I’ll be sharing my experiences in the programme, from in-depth training on satellite systems to social activities with my colleagues and sightseeing around Europe.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to delve deep into a comprehensive theoretical training on each subsystem and went through intensive training on the mission control system used by the European Space Agency (ESA). The training was done using a simulator that replicates the technical intricacies of satellite systems from the ground up, providing a holistic view of the operations required for routine activities. One of the standout moments of my training experience has been the successful completion of this intensive simulator training program. This was followed by the invaluable opportunity to witness controllers in the dedicated control room, where I had the privilege to learn about the incredible technology utilised by ESA. However, the true highlight of my training was the chance to interact with professionals such as the Spacecraft Operations Engineers from various sectors of the European space industry. Meeting these individuals not only inspired me, but also fueled my desire to reach their level of expertise and impact in the field.

Outside of work, I engage in social activities with my new colleagues, strengthening bonds and immersing myself in the local culture. From dinners hosted by the Sentinel-1 team to get togethers with the COP-2 team who showed me around the town of Darmstadt, these experiences have allowed me to enhance my networking and communication skills in a multicultural environment. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit multiple famous landmarks across Europe, such as exploring the town of Darmstadt – where my training is based – and visiting landmarks such as Institute Mathildenhöhe, Kirche HI. Maria Magdalena, Hochzeitsturm, and Vortex Garten.

My favourite trip was visiting Frankfurt and exploring Altstadt, known as the historic heart of Frankfurt city and its famous main attraction Romerberg, one of the most iconic spots in the city known for its medieval buildings. I particularly enjoyed it because I was fascinated by the medieval architecture and captivated by its timeless charm. Additionally, a quick weekend getaway to Mount Titlis in Switzerland added to my memorable sightseeing in Europe!

Looking ahead, I’m excited for the upcoming training and courses I’m set to take in the programme. I’m particularly eager to witness the operations of the Sentinel-1 mission with the Spacecraft Operations Engineers and learn how to handle special operation requests and anomalies. I am also looking forward to being exposed to different space missions and comparing them with Sentinel-1.

With everything I am learning I keep thinking how I look forward to impacting a better future through this programme by giving back to my country through contributing to Saudi Vision 2030, supporting the growth of the Saudi space sector.

Stay tuned for my next blog for updates on my exciting journey within the Serco Space Graduate Programme!