Spacecraft Design

A compelling class seen through the eyes of professor and student


Christopher Adam Kitts
Doctoral student

Our highly optimized parts didn’t work well together. Our carefully designed components were difficult to manufacture. Our specially crafted circuits stopped working in radiation environments, in vacuums and in thermal isolation. Our operational procedures for using the satellites once in space were too costly.

We now laugh remembering those difficult moments and how we learned to look for new techniques and models to find solutions.

This is not your normal course. We’re building real spacecraft. It is hard to dismiss the excitement of “the final frontier.” Imagine it: Get the fun and the satisfaction of building satellites that will orbit the Earth and test new technologies, snap pictures and broadcast messages ­ created by us.

Apart from the educational aspect, our satellites test new technologies and methods to design and operate spacecraft not only for our lab but for others in the aerospace industry. We are discovering new technologies that make space-based systems more economically competitive through reduced cost, faster development and higher quality services. That, no doubt, will contribute to the aerospace industry’s new emphasis on “faster, cheaper, better.” Beyond that, our activities are gaining notoriety and support from NASA and the aerospace community. Spacecraft Design is now much more than a college course.

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