Space Systems

Why space systems?

Space systems are vehicles and infrastructure working together to perform a task in the space environment. We depend on space systems every day for communication, navigation and weather prediction services. Space systems improve our knowledge of the physical universe through celestial observation and planetary exploration. Space systems also provide intelligence and surveillance that is critical for the national defense.

Space systems typically exhibit high levels of subsystem interaction, have low design and performance margins, and require high reliability. Autonomy is increasingly important for space systems, particularly for those operating far from Earth.

What is going on in space systems research at Illinois?

Research in space systems at Illinois includes theoretical, software, and hardware projects focused on space guidance, navigation, and control; entry, descent, and landing systems; planetary exploration systems; orbital mechanics; space mission design and optimization; robotics; autonomy; and university-class flight projects. Current research sponsors include NASA, NSF, NIH, DARPA, AFRL, DHS, ARL, DoE and industry. Research in space systems at Illinois is conducted by a diverse team of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students across the College of Engineering.

Who are the faculty members in the area?

Professor Emeritus
Clinical Associate Professor
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor


  • AE 402 – Orbital Mechanics
  • AE 403 – Spacecraft Attitude Control
  • AE 434 – Rocket Propulsion
  • AE 435 – Electric Propulsion
  • AE 442 – Space Systems Design I
  • AE 443 – Space Systems Design II
  • AE 498SDI -- Spacecraft Design Integration

Get an advanced degree in aerospace engineering

The Department of Aerospace Engineering offers numerous options for advanced degrees,  including: 5-year Bachelor/Master of Science; Master of Science; Online Master of Science - Non-thesis; Master of Engineering in Aerospace Systems; Online MEng in Aerospace Systems; and Doctorate.

The deadline to apply for spring enrollment is December 1.

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