FAA Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation Concludes

More Than a Decade of Research, Collaboration Ends with Final Meeting at Florida Tech April 14

MELBOURNE, FLA. — The FAA Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation, a powerful coalition of academia, industry and government, holds its final meeting April 14.

The FAA established the Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation (known as COE CST) in 2010. It has three main goals of research, training, and outreach in the areas of human spaceflight, industry innovations and a host of related topics. Legislation designated the lifetime of all FAA COEs to be 10 years, but the COE CST concludes after 12 years due to a number of unforeseeable circumstances, including COVID.

Florida Tech was one of the nine original COE CST “core” universities, and the university will host the final Annual Technical Meeting – the 11th overall – from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Florida Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design, 2495 Palm Bay Road NE in Palm Bay.

Students, faculty, industry representatives and the general public are invited to attend the meeting in person or via Zoom. Registration is required. Upon registration, guests will receive the Zoom link.

Breaking from past technical meeting formats, this one takes a comprehensive look at the COE CST with a special focus on the past and future opportunities, featuring panel discussions by past and current principal investigators and students. Grouped according to the four research areas – aerospace access and operations; aerospace vehicles; human spaceflight and operations; industry innovation – university principal investigators with long and active COE CST histories will discuss their perspectives on the following topics:

  • The major accomplishments of research conducted in their research areas by themselves and their colleagues.
  • The impact on industry of the research conducted in this research area.
  • Possible future research activities that give a forward-looking perspective of upcoming commercial space research.
  • The impact on student workforce development and preparation, including student success stories
  • The impact of the research on space operations safety

Interspersed throughout the day will be video testimonials and messages from COE CST alumni and sponsors.

Florida Tech participated in more than a dozen projects, including research into air and space traffic control considerations for commercial space, human factors in spacecraft design; and measuring thunderstorm electrical parameters to help reduce incidents of weather-related delays and scrubs.

The university also led COE CST collaboration and coordination activities, bringing on board affiliate and associate member universities and industry partners. This infusion increased the reach of the center, diversified participants and expanded the research portfolio.

The FAA Center of Excellence program was established by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. Twenty years later, the COE CST was established in August 2010. The current cooperative agreements all end in August, and research tasks are currently being targeted for completion by next month.

The original nine COE CST “core” universities include Florida Tech, Florida State University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico State University, Stanford University, University of Central Florida, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Florida and University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Baylor College of Medicine was added as a tenth “core” university in 2017.

The COE CST added a host of additional universities, groups and industry partners over the years.

Other FAA COEs focused on airport technology, aviation safety and unmanned aircraft systems.

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