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Space@VT – Who we are, Where We Are, and Where We Are Going

Virginia Tech’s Center for Space Science and Engineering (Space@VT) comprises a group of faculty, students, and staff devoted to the investigation and utilization of the space environment.  Our mission is to provide forefront research, instruction, and educational outreach in the fields of space science and engineering utilizing a holistic approach of theoretical modeling, advanced simulation techniques, space system and instrument design, and experimental data acquisition, analysis, and interpretation. The vision of Space@VT is to be a premier space research and workforce training organization of international caliber advancing the broad research, educational, and outreach mission of Virginia Tech.

Space science in our context includes all of the scientific disciplines that involve space exploration and natural phenomena occurring in space. A key component for us is space weather which is the collection of physical processes beginning at the Sun (e.g. solar flares and coronal mass ejections) that produce effects in the geospace environment (e.g. aurora, enhanced radiation and electric fields) that ultimately affect human activities on Earth and in space (e.g. navigation and communication anomalies, power grid disruption, spacecraft damage, etc.).

Space engineering includes the development and application of technologies that support space exploration and utilization. This includes space mission design, remote and in situ sensing, spacecraft structures and subsystems, ground stations, orbit solutions, guidance, and navigation.

Space science and engineering are mutually supportive, synergistic fields. The science is accomplished through technology development and application. Space@VT projects afford students opportunities for extensive hands-on experience in both.  By backing these experiences with a strong curriculum in space science and technology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels through the Aerospace and Ocean and Electrical and Computer engineering departments, we are able to prepare students for careers in the space industry, government labs, and academic institutions. Space@VT is the premier Virginia institution for training students in space-related fields and seeks to be among the premier US institutions.

Space@VT prioritizes engaging underrepresented groups in space science and engineering. This engagement includes providing research and educational opportunities and experiences for middle school, high school, and underrepresented college-level students. Space@VT also develops joint research and educational ventures with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).