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Astronautical Engineering

Astronautical Engineering

Program Description

The Graduate Astronautical (GA) Engineering program provides the student with a broad education in the scientific and engineering disciplines associated with Astronautical Engineering, as well as in-depth study in selected specialty areas. The program’s core courses are designed to ensure graduates have a solid foundation in the areas of orbital mechanics, space environment, attitude determination and control, telecommunications, remote sensing, space structures, and rocket propulsion. Specialty sequences are available in, but not limited to, these important aspects of astronautical engineering.

The program is fully accredited, leading to a Master of Science degree in Astronautical Engineering. The discipline of Astronautical engineering is dedicated to the design, testing and development of spacecraft, missiles, launch vehicles and related systems. Air Force quota students normally enter as a class in September and are scheduled to graduate in March after 18 months of study. Program entry date and length may vary for other students. Please see the Department Blue Book for further details.

Admissions Requirements

Bachelor's Degree Required: ABET-accredited BS degree in Aeronautical, Astronautical, Aerospace, Mechanical Engineering, or Engineering Mechanics.

Undergraduate Mathematics Course Required: Calculus, Ordinary Differential Equations

Test Required: GRE - 153V/148Q (within the last five years)

GPA Required: Overall - 3.0; Mathematics - 3.0; Major - 3.0


*Waivers to the above criteria are sometimes granted, and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Individuals whose academic credentials fall below any of the above criteria but feel they should be given additional consideration due to other potential qualifying factors are encouraged to apply.  Please contact the Center at 937-255-6565 x4753 for additional information.


Military personnel, international officers, and civilians who apply to AFIT for full-time graduate study under the sponsorship (full pay and allowances) of a military service or Government organization, but fail to meet the criteria above may be admitted by the faculty in the appropriate department.  Please refer to AFIT’s Master’s Degree Eligibility for additional information.



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Outcomes & Objectives

Program Educational Objectives (PEOs)

  • Graduates will make direct contributions to the area of astronautical engineering as practicing engineers.

  • Graduates will successfully evaluate, monitor, and administer astronautical research and development projects.

  • Graduates will use their AFIT education to approach and solve new technological challenges to meet the needs of the Department of Defense.


Student Outcomes (SOs)

Graduates of the GA program will:

  • Apply sound engineering principles to solve Air Force and Department of Defense problems.

  • Communicate technical information, via oral presentations and written documents, to a wide range of audiences, including engineering professionals and senior military officers.

  • Understand the principles of orbital mechanics. Graduates will be able to describe Keplerian motion, major perturbations to Keplerian motion, and be able to plan orbital maneuvers.

  • Be prepared to describe and discuss significant aspects of the space environment and their effect on Earth-orbiting spacecraft.

  • Model spacecraft attitude dynamics and synthesize control laws to control spacecraft attitude. Graduates will understand transformations due to coordinate frame translation and rotations.

  • Have a basic understanding of modern communication principles as they relate to satellite communications. Graduates will recognize methods of modulation, multiplexing, and encoding. Graduates will be able to perform simple link margin analyses needed to establish initial design requirements.

  • Be prepared to describe essential features of rocket propulsion including: performance parameters, propellant types, rocket staging, and fluid mechanics as it pertains to rocket propulsion.

  • Conduct basic analyses of space structures including deformation from tension, torsion, shear, and bending.

  • Have basic understanding of the remote sensing process, and be able to recognize key concepts relating to optical systems, imaging, spatial and spectral resolution, and atmospheric absorption and scattering. 

Degree Information

Degree Type: Master's


Delivery Method: In-Residence


Degree Requirements

  • Core Astronautical Engineering (20 hours)
  • Mathematics (8 hours)
  • Specialty sequences (8 hours)
  • Thesis (12 hours)

Graduate School Catalog

Faculty Research Areas

  • ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING
  • ASTRODYNAMIC REENTRY
  • CONTROL SYSTEMS
  • DYNAMICS AND CONTROL
  • GAME THEORY
  • IMAGE PROCESSING
  • MULTI-AGENT SYSTEMS
  • OPTIMIZATION
  • ORBITAL MECHANICS
  • SPACE SYSTEMS
  • SPACECRAFT DYNAMICS
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Air Force Institute of Technology
2950 Hobson Way
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433-7765
Commercial: 937-255-6565 | DSN: 785-6565