Celine Elledge
23 Jul 2020



Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) Technician


​​​​​​​​​​Celine Elledge, MLI Technician


What is your role?

I'm a MLI Technician. I manufacture blankets of multi-layered insulation used to protect sensitive instrumentation and the body of satellites from the extremes of heat and cold in space.​

How did you get into your job?

I qualified as an Operating Department Assistant at Charing Cross Hospital, London in 1982 and during my training gleaned skills as a scrub, circulating, recovery and anaesthetic nurse in all aspects and types of surgery. Ingrown toenails being the only type of surgery I didn't like! I worked at various different hospitals, in a clinic for laser eye surgery, and later as the first Operating Department Practitioner in two different departments. I pushed the boundaries and opened doors for other Operating Department Practitioners to work in other departments.

After years of heavy lifting, both of patients and trays of instruments, like so many healthcare professionals, I had to retire due to back issues, but I had given the profession 37 years and it was an amazing journey.

When the role as an MLI Technician at RAL Space was advertised, a friend recommended that I apply. Having worked in operating theatres, I was used to the cleanroom protocols and the safe use of scalpels required for the MLI facility. I've been making my own clothes since the age of 9 and am a keen DIY'er. I've handled many different textiles, I've re-covered chairs, sofas and made curtains. When the position was advertised I applied, and was able to show that I had the ability to work from patterns and written instructions, which is vital for the extremely accurate work of making thermal blankets for spacecraft.

What's the best thing about your job?

The team! I really work with a great crowd of people which makes coming to work a pleasure! Also, I'm able to create something exact and amazing that will eventually circle the Earth in space. Not many people can say that!

What do you value about working for RAL Space?

Being able to work in an environment where anything is possible, where boundaries can be pushed, new ideas can be exchanged and challenged, and where continual learning is encouraged and always supported.

What advice would you give to people looking for a job in this industry?

This is no boring desk job. If you want an interesting, challenging career that will open up doors to various opportunities, the space industry can do that for you.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self now?

No, but what I would say, and it is the mantra by which I've lived, is to take every opportunity presented and work in the fields that inspire you and have no regrets when you look back over your life and career.​​

Celine - MLI suite.jpg

2020 Celine Elledge manufacturing MLI blankets in the Multi-Layer Insulation Facility​ clean room