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Cornell launches spaceflight mechanics certificate program

Cornell University, long recognized as one of the leading universities in space science and technology, released a new certificate program that will prepare engineers with the foundational knowledge needed to launch them into a career in aerospace engineering and commercial spaceflight.

The space technology industry has made great strides with several recent and forthcoming space missions and is poised for expansion in the coming decades. With this industry growth, researchers predict the need for telecommunications support, research, and security satellites, but also a new space economy in support of individuals visiting outer space as tourists and passengers.

“The global space industry has expanded quite dramatically in recent years, and there are now countless new startups offering launch and space services that fundamentally didn't exist even a decade ago,” says Dmitry Savransky, associate professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (College of Engineering) and the Department of Astronomy (College of Arts & Sciences) and designer of the new course. “It's an incredibly exciting time to be working in this area, as we see the launch of the first elements of future mega-constellations of satellites, which promise to bring entirely new services and capabilities in the near future.”

The Spaceflight Mechanics Cornell Certificate Program will be globally available through the eCornell online learning platform and offers insight into a variety of topics from measuring space and time to planning orbital maneuvers and interplanetary trajectories. Students will explore the basics of orbit analysis and design, propulsion for space missions, and then move on to understanding and controlling the orientation of the spacecraft.

The program provides students with a strong foundation in modern spacecraft orbit and attitude control system design, and an ability to recognize current problems and trends in spacecraft operations and development.

The 16-week program allows individuals to expand their aerospace knowledge virtually – affording them the flexibility to continue their professional careers.

The new spaceflight mechanics certificate comes on the heels of a rapid expansion of the space science and technology program at Cornell. Entrepreneur Steve Fujikawa ’77 committed an eight-figure gift to aerospace engineering at Cornell, an investment that will strengthen the university’s status as a leader in space education and research. In April 2021, Cornell also hosted the inaugural K.K. Wang Space Tech Industry Day, a collaboration between scientists, technologists and businesses that dove into new opportunities in space technology.

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