Spacecraft Engineering Focus

Exploring space, the prospect of traveling beyond the confines of Earth inspires many engineers like no other endeavor. This degree will appeal to those with a passion for spacecraft. Along with the early contributions of Newton, Kepler, Euler, and Hamilton, the past century of practical, predictive, and speculative work in space travel constitutes a body of work that can guide us toward new discoveries. 

The spacecraft engineering-focused MEng Degree is all about how to build spacecraft--and why. It is designed to extend an undergraduate aerospace or mechanical engineering degree to allow students to focus on conceiving, designing, implementing, and operating satellites, rockets, and other space systems. At Cornell, faculty research groups in this area are addressing formation flight, space-borne robots, celestial mechanics, space propulsion, space-system architecture, adaptive control, and in-orbit inspection and repair. MEng students at Cornell have participated in the design and construction of four spacecraft (the ICE Cubesat, two CUSat inspection satellites, and the Violet satellite) and the development of high-agility space-borne robotic arms. Programs like these and others are available for MEng research projects.



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A Sample Curriculum

There is no required program of courses, this is just a possible model


MAE 5065 Introduction to Spaceflight Mechanics (3 cr)

MAE 6060 Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics, Estimation, and Control (3 cr)

MAE 5930 Systems Eng. & Six Sigma for Design and Operation of Reliable Systems (4 cr)

MAE 6540 Space Propulsion Physics and Engineering (3 cr)

MAE 6900 MEng Project (3 cr)


MAE 5160 Spacecraft Technology and Systems Architecture (4 cr)

MAE 6530 Space Exploration Engineering (3 cr)

MAE 6940 Professional Development for MEng in MAE (1 cr)

NBA 5070 Entrepreneurship for Scientists and Engineers (3 cr)

MAE 6900 MEng Project (3 cr)

A Sample of Other Possible Courses

There are hundreds of courses to choose from, this is just a short list to give you an idea of what is available.  The courses you take will be based on your specific goals.

GPS: Theory and Design, Intermediate Dynamics and Vibrations, Feedback Control Systems, Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos, Advanced Dynamics, Model-Based Estimation, Multivariable Control Theory, Digital Signal Processing, Digital Feedback Control, Theory of Linear Systems, Autonomous Mobile Robots, Computer Vision, Introduction to Plasma Physics, Introduction to Cosmology, Physics of the Planets, Celestial Mechanics, Remote Sensing Fundamentals, Introduction to Controlled Fusion: Principles and Technology, Future Energy Systems, Adaptive and Learning Systems


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Faculty teaching in the spacecraft engineering

Mason PeckMason Peck

Stephen J. Fujikawa '77 Professor of Astronautical Engineering




Elaine PetroElaine Petro

Assistant Professor

Astro Lab



Tim SandsTimothy Sands

Professor of Practice in Space Systems




Dmitry SavranskyDmitry Savransky

Assistant Professor

Space Imaging and Optical Systems Lab

Past Projects

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  • Advanced ChipSats for Dual exploration architecture missions
  • Regolith Thruster Project
  • An Intelligent Spacecraft Configuration Tool for Mission Architecture Space Exploration
  • Artificial Gravity Cubesat
  • Dynamical Studies of Planetary System Orbits
  • Attitude Determiniation and Control for Nano-Satellites
  • Artificial Gravity Cubesat
  • Tethered Cubesat Control Systems
  • CUSat In-orbit Inspection Nanosatellite
  • Hybrid Water Propulsion Design


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Graduates from the Master of Engineering in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering, with a Spacecraft Engineering Focus, go on to work in the following companies:

  • Moog
  • SpaceX
  • JPL
  • NASA
  • Draper Labs
  • Scaled Composites
  • Lockheed Martin
  • SSL
  • MIT Lincoln Labs
  • Raytheon
  • Blue Origin
  • Stealth Space Company
  • Emergent Space Technologies
  • Sandia
  • Ball Aerospace
  • John's Hopkins APL
  • Aerojet/Rocketdyne
  • Boeing
  • Planet Labs
  • Northrop Grumman

Jobs titles include systems engineer, mechanical engineer, mechanical designer, aerospace engineer, aerospace designer, modeling, and simulation engineer.