We welcome students of all majors and skill levels, from freshmen through doctoral candidates. No prior experience is required. (If it were easy to fly spacecraft, we wouldn’t need the lab!) If you can give us one hour a week or forty, we can find meaningful work for you. You are only limited by your willingness to work hard and learn.

However, whatever effort you do commit to the lab, we do expect you to follow through.

Get Involved with SSRL

  • Graduate Students
    • MS and PhD.. Parks College offers Engineering Masters Degrees (course, project and thesis options) and Doctoral Degrees. SSRL faculty sponsor research projects in all of these areas. Any of the faculty will gladly answer your questions. More about the graduate school and the application process can be found here:
    • Coursework. Students not working directly with SSRL faculty can still receive advanced training through the coursework, outlined below.
  • Undergraduates
    • Projects. The easiest way to get involved is to show up and pitch in on one of our projects. The main laboratory for SSRL is Room 2101 on the 2nd floor of McDonnell-Douglas Hall. Our weekly meeting times are posted on the door.
    • School-year and Summer Research. Some students want to extend their project work to include of the research activities sponsored by the faculty. We support school-year and summer research work, both paid and unpaid.
    • Coursework. A series of courses taught by Parks faculty will help prepare students for space systems careers and give additional preparation for SSRL projects. The complete set of courses are listed below.
    • Capstone Design. SSRL faculty sponsor senior design projects in Aerospace, Electrical, Computer and Mechanical Engineering. Many of these projects are in support of SSRL space missions; some lay the ground work for future SSRL missions.

Some students liken the SSRL experience to being thrown in the deep end of the pool. We do that on purpose. One of the skills that sets apart the good systems engineers is the willingness to ask for help, to search out the answers, instead of sitting around waiting to be told what to do.


Parks faculty teach a variety of courses that prepare students for space systems work. (Actually, they are good preparation for any sort of work involving the design, fabrication, test and operation of large-scale, multi-disciplinary systems.)
  • AENG 3150 (Astrodynamics). This course teaches the basics of orbital mechanics, rocket propulsion and spacecraft attitude control.
  • AENG 4050/5050 (Space Mission Analysis and Design). This course is the linchpin for all the courses that follow. Students are taught the basic functions, sizing and analysis tools for spacecraft subsystems, as well as the spacecraft design lifecycle. Students are capable of performing a preliminary (Phase A) study after taking this class. This course is strongly recommended before taking on an SSRL project in capstone design.
  • AENG 5070 (Space Mission Integration & Test). This course covers the underlying philosophy of verification (proving that a spacecraft will fulfill its mission) and how all of the various environmental tests are carried out. This course is typically offered when one of our spacecraft is in the integration & test phase, so students gain practical experience in the process!
  • AENG 5850 (Space Mission Failures). Failures are great teaching tools. In this course, we review several important space mission failures, identifying what went wrong and how such problems could be avoided. Most importantly, we focus on how using good systems engineering practices could prevent such failures.
  • AENG 5060 (Advanced Space Mission Design). Students perform a conceptual study of an advanced mission concept, evaluating the suitability of creating a mission at SSRL. Past concepts studied include solar sails, fractionation and proximity operations/docking.