The Aerospace Corporation

The Aerospace Corporation

Infobox Company
company_name = The Aerospace Corporation
company_type = Not-for-profit corporation
foundation = 1960
location = El Segundo, California, USA
key_people = Dr. Wanda Austin (President and CEO)
industry = Aerospace
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
num_employees = 3850
parent =
subsid =
homepage = []
footnotes =

The Aerospace Corporation is a private, non-profit corporation headquartered in El Segundo, California that has operated a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) for the United States Air Force since 1960. The purposes of the corporation are exclusively scientific: to engage in, assist and contribute to the support of scientific activities and projects for, and to perform and engage in research, development and advisory services to or for, the United States Government.Citation | title = Articles of Incorporation | year = 1960 | publisher = The Aerospace Corporation] As the FFRDC for national-security space, Aerospace works closely with organizations such as the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to provide "objective technical analyses and assessments for space programs that serve the national interest."Citation | title = 2006 Annual Report | year = 2007 | publisher = The Aerospace Corporation | url =]


On July 1, 1954, the Western Development Division (WDD) of the United States Air Force was established, under the command of Brig. Gen. Bernard A. Schriever. WDD was responsible for the development of the ICBM. The Ramo Wooldridge Corporation (RW) was identified as the civilian organization responsible for systems engineering for the ICBM program. Their Space Technology Laboratories (STL) was responsible for all missile tasks. Despite early successes, there was criticism from both government and industry on the role RW played as systems engineer, in particular that RW held a privileged position with the Air Force. In 1958 RW merged with Thompson Products to became TRW and the Space Technology Laboratories became an independent subsidiary of TRW, but concerns regarding conflicts of interest persisted. In September 1959, United States Congress issued "House Report 1121" which recommended that STL be converted into a non-profit institution. ["The Aerospace Corporation, Its Work 1960-1980", pages 12-17. Library of Congress Catalogue Card No. 80-67774] Congress wanted the establishment of an organization, free from conflict of interest, to aid the Air Force in “applying the full resources of modern science and technology to the problem of achieving those continuing advances in ballistic missiles and military space systems.”cite web|title=Aerospace History Timeline|url=|accessdate=2007-08-17]

On June 30, 1960 Aerospace was established under the laws of the State of California as a nonprofit corporation. ["The Aerospace Corporation, Its Work 1960-1980", page 18. Library of Congress Catalogue Card No. 80-67774] On June 25, 1960, at a press conference held at the U.S. Air Force Ballistic Missile Division headquarters in El Segundo, California, Lt. Gen. Bernard A. Schriever announced the “formation of a new nonprofit organization, The Aerospace Corporation, to serve the Air Force in the scientific and technical planning and management of missile-space programs.” [cite web|title=Making Space Work Since 1960|url=|accessdate=2007-08-17]

Among the earliest projects it supported were the Dyna-Soar orbital spaceplane, Project Mercury, and the man-rating of the Atlas (rocket) intercontinental ballistic missile. The Aerospace Corporation provided general systems engineering and technical direction for the Titan II missile, first tested in 1962, which became the launch vehicle for Project Gemini. Other notable projects of the 1960s include the advanced ballistic re-entry system (ABRES), the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL), the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS), and the Defense Support Program (DSP).

During the 1970s, Aerospace began performing advance space program analysis and program studies for NASA’s development of the Space Transportation System (STS), more commonly known as the space shuttle. Aerospace also began tests on airborne UHF terminals for the Air Force Satellite Communications System, AFSATCOM. In the mid-70s Aerospace assumed general systems engineering and integration responsibility for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). Beginning in 1973, a program office was established to assist the Air Force in the creation of the Global Positioning System (GPS). In recognition of their GPS collaboration, Aerospace shared the 1992 Robert J. Collier Trophy, the nation’s highest award for aeronautical achievement, "for the most significant development for safe and efficient navigation and surveillance of air and spacecraft since the introduction of radio navigation 50 years ago." [cite web|title=Naval Research Laboratory|url=|accessdate=2007-09-12]

Throughout the 1980s, Aerospace supported the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the Milstar and DSCS satellite communication systems, and antisatellite (ASAT) programs. They provided planning, design, and evaluation for the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) and the Consolidated Space Operations Center at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. During this same time period, the company also provided systems engineering and integration for launch vehicles, including the Atlas, Titan II, Titan IV, and Delta II.

In the 1990s, Aerospace participated in the planning and development of system requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, the next generation of launch vehicles. They continued to provide launch vehicle systems engineering for the Atlas II, Delta III, and Titan IVB. Satellite program support included Wideband Gapfiller, Space Based Laser, the Ultrahigh-Frequency Follow-On program, and the Global Broadcast Service. Throughout the second half of the 90s, the corporation conducted independent assessments for the International Space Station, provided technical support for the Cassini spacecraft, and supported the acquisition of the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite constellation.

Most recently, The Aerospace Corporation provided further technical assistance to EELV programs including the Atlas V and Delta IV, and supported planning for Space Radar to provide global persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to the Department of Defense. Aerospace has been involved in the analysis of concept designs for the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (SSTS). Aerospace plays an integral role in the development of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) program that will replace the Milstar system. Another new system Aerospace is supporting is the Transformation Communications MILSATCOM architecture to link military and reconnaissance communication networks. Aerospace remains a significant partner in the continuing evolution of the GPS system. Aerospace has been playing a leading role in the planning and acquisition of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 2005, Aerospace supported the Air Force Affordable Responsive Spacelift (ARES) launch system demonstration program.


The Aerospace Corporation, as the FFRDC for national security space, primarily supports the Space and Missile Systems Center of the Air Force Space Command, as well as the National Reconnaissance Office. Their 45-year history working side by side with these organizations has made Aerospace the national memory and data repository for launch and satellite systems. They provide scientific and engineering support for launch, space, and related ground systems that serve the national interest.

The Department of Defense has identified five core competencies for the Aerospace FFRDC: launch certification, system-of-systems engineering, systems development and acquisition, process implementation, and technology application. [cite web|title=What is an FFRDC?|url=|accessdate=2007-08-17]

Aerospace also manages support to programs for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as other civil and some commercial space customers.

The Aerospace Corporation sponsors several annual conferences and workshops including planetary defense, space systems engineering, space power, and spacecraft thermal control.


pace Systems Group

The Space Systems Group works with the Air Force, government, and industry partners to develop military satellites and advanced national-security satellite systems. It oversees four major spacecraft and space system areas: communications, surveillance, weather, and navigation. ] Much emphasis is placed upon the life cycle for systems--as space programs are designed, acquired, and fielded. The Space Systems Group also includes Space Launch Operations which supports Air Force and NRO launch programs by monitoring and collecting data from national security launches. It is responsible for conducting the Aerospace independent launch readiness verification process for legacy and EELV launches. This group focuses on lessons learned, data, and best practices sharing among launch programs.

Engineering and Technology Group

The Engineering and Technology Group is Aerospace's core science and engineering organization, providing cross-program technical support to a variety of military, civil, commercial, and corporate projects. Consisting of nearly half of the company's technical force, the group is made up of six specialty organizations: Laboratory Operations, Communications and Networking Division, Computers and Software Division, Electronics and Sensors Division, Systems Engineering Division, Vehicle Systems Division. [cite web|title=Engineering and Technology Group|url=|accessdate=2007-08-17] Members of ETG assess and evaluate existing and new space technologies, investigate and resolve anomalies, and conduct research and development.

National Systems Group

The National Systems Group is responsible for systems engineering and integrations support for NRO space programs. Through methods such as technical and engineering analyses, concept design studies, and direct on-site support, they provide planning, development, and deployment services for reconnaissance space systems. NSG's focus is to apply a systems engineering approach to national intelligence programs in order to provide objective technical recommendations and solutions.

ystems Planning and Engineering

Systems Planning and Engineering provides customer support to all national-security space programs. Activities within the group include requirements analysis, cross-mission planning and architecture development, strategic awareness planning, cross-program engineering, and systems acquisition development.

Civil and Commercial Operations

Civil and Commercial Operations supports both developing and operational civil space systems for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Commercially, the group supports satellite owner-operators, spacecraft manufacturers, insurance companies, and space-consulting and legal firms. It plays a key role in spacecraft operations, acquisition planning, strategic planning, acquisition management, and risk assessment for operational, near-term and future NOAA satellite programs.


ee also

* Federally Funded Research and Development Center
* Global Positioning System
* United States Air Force
* National Reconnaissance Office

External links

* [ The Aerospace Corporation] (official corporate website)
* [ Planetary Defense Conference sponsored by The Aerospace Corporation]
* [ Space Systems Engineering & Risk Management Symposium sponsored by The Aerospace Corporation]
* [ Spacecraft Thermal Control Workshop sponsored by The Aerospace Corporation]
* [ Space Power Workshop sponsored by The Aerospace Corporation]

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