Slingshot looks to advance on-orbit experiments using modular and autonomous technologies on next-generation satellite systems.

Aerospace’s Slingshot looks to advance on-orbit experiments using modular and autonomous technologies on next-generation satellite systems.

Space-based technology has become essential to modern society, and the accelerated pace of innovation continues to increase demand for space-based services. This has prompted a need for more resilient and responsive satellite development and launch processes that can streamline the mission lifecycle to reduce time and cost, while providing greater flexibility and adaptability for space access.

Recognizing the need for modernizing the space enterprise, The Aerospace Corporation has emphasized…


Could ambient air extend the life of very low Earth orbit satellites?

NASA’s Game Changing Development Program and the National Institute of Aerospace are seeking novel and robust concepts — particularly tugs, propelled by solar electric propulsion that transfer payloads from low earth orbit to a lunar distant retrograde orbit. Courtesy: NASA

Very low Earth orbit (VLEO) is becoming popular for large satellite constellations. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), approximately 5,000 satellites are currently in this orbit, but the historic numbers are dwarfed by future satellite forecasts. The booming commercial space industry has proposed another 20,000 satellites for deployment into non-geostationary orbits, with about 13,000 approved by the FCC thus far. One SpaceX filing from March 2017 alone proposed 7,518 satellites in orbits between 336 km and 346 km altitudes.

VLEO satellites typically experience fast orbital decay and…


A new sensor from The Aerospace Corporation can detect the speed and type of vessel by the wakes it leaves behind.

Measuring human activity at sea has multiple applications, including environmental monitoring, resource management and national security, but the ability to effectively detect vessels in expansive ocean settings is a challenge with technologies like sonar and radar. Potential threats and bad actors deliberately maintain a low profile at sea, skirting international maritime laws and radio/cell transmission to avoid detection.

A new alternative measurement tool developed at Aerospace analyzes Kelvin wakes, something all sea-faring vessels leave upon the water. The V-shaped impressions trailing vessels as they move are typically 38 degrees across and produce wave characteristics influenced by its speed. …


A scientist explains why finding ice on the Red Planet was only part of the challenge.

In this illustration, NASA astronauts drill into the Mars’ subsurface. The agency is creating new maps that show where ice is most likely to be easily accessible to future astronauts. Credit: NASA

Any hope humans have for an off-world future relies on several factors for survival. One of the most important? Water. Continuously shipping water across the galaxy to resupply astronauts requires extraordinary expense in transportation costs. The next planet humans inhabit will need to have access to a local supply. Scientists have labored to locate water on Mars but finding it was only the first step. …


As plans for the end of ISS are being made, Aerospace Chief Technology Officer, Dr. David Miller, looks at the progress and the future of space-based microgravity lab facilities.

The International Space Station has served as a critical laboratory for microgravity research. (Credit: NASA)

Technology research is no longer solely a terrestrial endeavor. Crucial interactions between the zero gravity environment and the physics of spacecraft can’t be replicated in a 1-G environment on Earth. A benefit of human space exploration has been the ability to test space innovations in the environment where they will eventually operate.

Critical space-enabling technologies have been developed in the microgravity labs aboard space stations including Mir, the Space Shuttle, and…


New unmanned aerial drones can fly into damaged areas, locate survivors and alert first responders.

Pararescue jumpers and combat rescue officers from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base conduct a search and rescue response during Hurricane Katrina-like flood training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

When responding to a natural disaster, lives are on the line and every second counts. Emergency rescuers often face the challenges of assessing vast swaths of destruction and chaos with minimal real-time intelligence to guide them.

Searching for survivors in rising floodwaters or the chaotic ruins of an earthquake takes days, as workers must assess which roads and bridges are accessible and attempt to navigate through hazardous, unknown environments.

The Aerospace Corporation aims to give rescue crews intelligent eyes in the sky. A team of…


The responses to our updates about Long March 5B have been overwhelming. Our Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies expert, Marlon Sorge, answers some the most-asked questions about the reentry that captured the world’s attention.

ATV-1 Reentry from February, 2015. Image courtesy European Space Agency

The remnants of the large Chinese rocket body known as Long March 5B plummeted into the Indian Ocean on May 8 after an uncontrolled and dangerous reentry. Experts at Aerospace’s Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) monitored its journey using sophisticated modeling to predict when and where the 22-ton piece of space debris would crash to earth.


Wondering if you’re in a debris path? Here’s what all those blue and yellow lines mean.

Reentry prediction for the Long March 5B rocket body from the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies. Credit: The Aerospace Corporation

The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) is tracking the reentry path of the rocket body from the Chinese Long March 5B (CZ-5B) launch of April 29. The CORDS’ graphic has generated a lot of questions such as, “what exactly am I looking at?” and “am I in the path of debris?”

Latest update from Twitter @AerospaceCorp

For context, the previous “normal” rocket body descent, Long March 3B (CZ-3B) that reentered on May 3, is shown below:


The 21-metric-ton rocket body, Long March 5B, is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere this weekend. How did this happen, and where will it hit?

The Chinese Long March 5B successfully launched the core module of China’s first space station. Now the empty rocket body is plummeting towards Earth. Credit: CASC

A large Chinese rocket stage is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere in the coming days and experts are concerned about the potential impact of the debris.

The Long March 5B successfully launched a 22.5-metric-ton core module of China’s first space station last week. During the launch, the first stage of the Long March 5B also reached orbital velocity instead of falling downrange as is common practice. …


Tackling the challenge of small satellite propulsion with a novel idea for a Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor Thruster.

Rhodes checks the electrical connections of HyPer in a vacuum chamber. (Photo: Jeff Berting/Aerospace)

Small satellites are becoming more and more capable, taking over missions that used to require larger spacecraft. However, adding propulsion systems to these smaller platforms remains a challenge, which means many small sats are limited to applications that do not require increases in altitude, or changes in inclination.

Engineers at The Aerospace Corporation, working in conjunction with the University of Southern California, are developing a monopropellant vapor propulsion system that could help solve this problem.

“This type of system could enable the satellite…

The Aerospace Corporation

We operate the only federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) committed exclusively to the space enterprise.

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