SPACE: THE HERE AND NOW FRONTIER
MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics launches a new generation of innovators by Leda Zimmerman
“Students in AeroAstro don’t have to wait 30 years for the next Boeing aircraft to come out, or for NASA to go to Mars,” says Edward Obropta (AeroAstro ’13, SM ’15).
The chief technology officer of a young unmanned aerial systems technology company adds that he and his colleagues “see opportunities to do things today.”
Alumna Natalya Brikner, (AeroAstro PhD ’15), CEO of a satellite technology venture, agrees. She sees “space opening up to more people as the aerospace industry becomes more private.” The “final frontier” has opened up, indeed, as the public can now fly commercially-produced drones, access real-time satellite weather and navigation technologies, or even purchase tickets for a future Virgin Galactic suborbital flight. With such changes, MIT AeroAstro students and alumni are finding themselves confronted with a range of unprecedented opportunities. During the past century, MIT’s aerospace innovators helped win the race to the moon, shaped the nation’s aviation industry, perfected technologies that keep the nation secure, and begun probing the deepest reaches of the universe. These days, thanks to advances in technology and manufacturing, the proliferation of aviation as a mode of passenger and cargo transport, and reductions in governments’ appetites for large-scale space programs like Apollo, AeroAstro innovators can start their own companies, create their own aviation designs, build their own rockets, and make an impact outside of government facilities and large aerospace firms.
Space: The Here and Now Frontier
Published on Nov 18, 2016
Annual magazine review of MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department research and educational initiatives.