THREE craft-loving women ditched their sewing patterns and glue guns to take on an out-of-this-world new job – making blankets for satellites.

Claire Morgan, Angela Ashill and Kim Morgan all used to be professional or part-time crafters, making cards, cakes and quilts at home.

Now they are using their needlework know-how to make quilts so cosy they keep you warm in outer space.

The women work for the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) right here in Oxfordshire at the council’s RAL Space facility on Harwell Campus.

Angela Ashill had been looking for a change of career and happened to see an advert seeking a skilled craftsperson at the space facility.

Although the job was nothing like she’d ever done before, she knew she had to apply.

The 52-year-old from Chilton said: “I never expected to work anywhere like this.

“I had been running a card-making business at home when I saw the advert.

“I was intrigued – at the very least I thought it would be interesting to go to the interview. But my craft business and my previous career as a radiographer gave me the confidence to apply.”

These blankets the women are making protect space instruments from the extremes of temperature in outer space and are vital to keep equipment working correctly.

Making thermal blankets is a very skilled practical task; technicians need to be able to precisely measure, cut and, in some cases, sew the blankets.

This requires nimble-fingers and the skill to think three-dimensionally.

Many of these skills are used by craftspeople, so the job advert called for people with a love of sewing and crafting.

Mum-of-three Claire Morgan, from Chilton, was a childminder in her old life, but sewed and baked for family and friends.

The 38-year-old said: “After my kids went to school I started thinking about doing something else but it needed to fit round them.

“A friend of mine who already worked for RAL Space in engineering showed me the job advert. She suggested I give it a go.”

The third new team member, Kim Morgan, 55, has always had an interest in sewing and science – but never imagined she would be sewing in a lab.

The Didcot resident said: “When I saw the advert it looked like my ideal job because it involved making stuff.

“The interview seemed very technical but when they took us to the cleanroom and made a piece of blanket I thought ‘if this is what the job is about, it’s what I want to do’.”

While RAL Space has had a growing number of customers, recruiting the right staff to keep up with demand had been an ongoing problem until the three women joined Steven Cross in the team.

Facility manager Edward Jones said: “We realised we had been coming at the recruitment process as engineers.

“The issue was that we were thinking about the skills we had, rather than those actually needed for the role. So the recruitment team re-phrased the advert, took out much of the technical jargon and refocused on the craft skills needed for the job.”

RAL Space is now set to get even busier with about 500 blankets to make for external projects over the next three years and growing interest from beyond the space sector.

Last year, Government announced it would invest £100m in a new satellite testing facility at RAL Space in the coming years.