Florida Tech Launches Center for Space Commercialization

With the launch and return of the final Space Shuttle mission, the quest to explore and harness the unique resources of space continues. At Florida Institute of Technology the end of one era marks the start of another with the announcement of the College of Engineering’s new Center for Space Commercialization. Marshaling the expertise of faculty and relationships with NASA, industry and other universities, the center’s mission is to expand space commercialization efforts.

“The center seeks to identify, promote and support the use of space to provide goods and services of commercial value and to support U.S. aerospace industry and NASA needs towards the profitable commercialization of space,” said Fredric Ham, Dean of the College of Engineering and Harris Professor. The center will identify promising areas of research and relevant technologies, and develop strategic roadmaps for space commercialization. Additionally, the center will promote achievements in space commercialization, which are beneficial to national agencies and private industries.

Several projects are already underway at the center. For example, faculty members Stephane Bucaille and Daniel Kirk are busy on Mars orbiter electrical systems interfaces design in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as the Polar Imaging CubeSat Mission and spacecraft design with Harris Corporation. Additionally, Kirk and Hector Gutierrez are studying the liquid behavior of fuels in zero gravity with NASA, MIT and Aurora Aerospace. Kirk and Gutierrez also are conducting work on a contract with NASA on fiber optics instrumentation for rocket vehicle and in-space applications.

“The center will foster collaboration among researchers from highly diversified scientific, engineering and business communities. This includes universities, businesses and government entities,” said Ham.

Kirk is the new center’s interim director. Other faculty members currently involved include Adrian Peter, who has specialties in intelligent systems and information analysis and exploitation; William Allen, with expertise in information assurance; and Ju Zhang, who specializes in thermal systems.

The College of Engineering Center for Space Commercialization will also complement the newly awarded Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Center for Commercial Space Transportation (CST), with Florida Tech as one of the core partner research universities. The focus of the FAA Center for CST is to advance aerospace technology to meet the current and future needs of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry.

For more information, contact Ham at fmh@fit.edu or (321) 674-8020.

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