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Space Systems Research Laboratory
Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology Saint Louis University
The Mission of the Space Systems Research Laboratory is to perform world-class research in the design, fabrication and operation of space systems, and to produce world-class space systems engineers.
Space Systems Engineering
A space system consists of all of the elements necessary to complete a successful space mission: spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground operations, etc. Often, it is the behavior of the system as a whole that determines success or failure, not the optimal design of any one part.

At SSRL, our emphasis is on the end-to-end system; it informs our research activities as well as how we train our students.

Current Projects

Copper-2, a 3U reflight of the first COPPER mission. Copper-2 is manifested to fly in October 2016.

Rascal-1, a 6U mission to demonstrate key technologies for proximity operations and space situational awareness. Rascal has been selected by NASA to fly in 2018 as part of the ELaNa-21 mission.
Help SSRL by donating to the Rascal-1 mission here.

Past Projects

Argus, a 2U CubeSat developed in partnership with Vanderbilt University to improve modeling of the effects of radiation on modern space electronics. It was SSRL’s entry in the AFRL University Nanosat-7 competition, and was selected by NASA to launch in November 2015 as part of the ORS-4/ELaNa-VII mission. Argus was lost in the ORS-4 Launch failure.
COPPER, a 1U CubeSat to flight-test the use of a commercial microbolometer (long-wave infrared imager) for Earth observing and space situational awareness. COPPER was SSRL’s entry in the AFRL University Nanosat-6 competition and was launched in November 2013 as part of the ORS-3/ELaNa-IV mission.

Graduate Students

  • Ashley Fleming
  • Clay Jayne

Get Involved!
There are many ways to participate in SSRL: graduate research, undergraduate research, student volunteer, summer intern, senior design and through our formal coursework. Click here for more options. 


  • Copper-2 Testing Complete Copper-2 went to Albuquerque last week to test its systems in environments similar to those the satellite will experience when launched into space. It survived the tests, proving its ...
    Posted Jan 23, 2017, 2:34 PM by Oliver Grassmann
  • News Article about CubeSats Dr. Swartwout was quoted in an article in the Christian Science Monitor about the potential for CubeSats to change the way that space missions are developed.
    Posted Feb 25, 2016, 2:56 PM by Michael Swartwout
  • Argus Did Not Reach Orbit The ORS-4 launch experienced a failure during first stage ascension. Here are various reports from news outlets The SLU Newslink Story Coverage from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch The ...
    Posted Nov 5, 2015, 7:46 AM by Michael Swartwout
  • Argus is GO for launch (again) New launch date: 3 November 2015Same launch window, opening at 3pm Hawaii Time (7pm Central Standard Time)
    Posted Nov 2, 2015, 8:50 PM by Michael Swartwout
  • Argus on Launch Hold The ORS-4 launch is on hold. We will update the new launch date as we know more.
    Posted Oct 29, 2015, 10:24 AM by Michael Swartwout
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 12. View more »