Space Systems Research Laboratory (SSRL)

Space Systems Research Laboratory (SSRL)

The Mission of the Space Systems Research Laboratory is to perform world-class research in the design, fabrication and operation of space systems, and to produce world-class space systems engineers.


  1. Dr. Sanjay Jayaram, Director
  2. Dr. Michael Swartwout, co-Director
  3. Dr. Kyle Mitchell

SSRL Partners

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s University Nanosat Program
Kern Entrepreneurship
Education Network

The NASA Missouri Space
Grant Consortium


Analytical Graphicsagi-logo

Space Systems Engineering

A space system consists of all of the elements necessary to complete a successful space mission: spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground operations, etc. Often, it is the behavior of the system as a whole that determines success or failure, not the optimal design of any one part.

At SSRL, our emphasis is on the end-to-end system; it informs our research activities as well as how we train our students.

Latest SSRL News

November 5, 2015 - The ORS-4 launch experienced a failure during first stage ascension and Argus did not reach orbit. You can read more about the luanch here.

November 3, 2015 - Argus is scheduled to launch today! There will be launch party in the McDonnell Douglas Hall Rotunda starting at 6pm with the luanch window opening at 7pm. You can also watch a live feed of the launch here.

October 29, 2015 - The launch of Argus has been postponed. We do not have new launch date yet but will provide as update as soon as it is announced!

October 28, 2015 - One day until the launh of Argus!  ORS-4 is slated to launch on 29 October 2015. The launch window opens at 3pm Hawaii Standard Time (8pm Central Daylight Time, or 01:00 UTC on 30 October). There will be a launch party in the McDonnell Douglas Hall Rotunda starting at 7pm. 

November 15, 2013 - 4 Days Until Launch! Launch is still set for 19 November, pending the launch of MAVEN:  (MAVEN and ORS-3 share range tracking facilities, and MAVEN has priority.) NASA will carry the launch live (stream will open at 5:30pm CST on the day of launch): If you’re interested in tracking COPPER’s beacon, information can be found here.

September 18, 2013 - COPPER has been delivered to AFRL, fully checked out, and inserted into the P-POD. COPPER will next see the light of day in November, on-orbit! We owe a big thank-you to Craig Kief and everyone at Cosmiac for their extremely generous hospitality. View pictures of the shipping and delivery

August 11, 2013  - 100 days until launch! Launch date is set for November 19, 2013!

July 25, 2013 - Copper Team “Exiled” to Central California Coast. It took three flights (and overcoming an apparent ramp-crew work stoppage), but Dr. Swartwout and Tom Moline successfully presented our work at the ELaNa-IV Mission Readiness Review, held in gorgeous San Luis Obispo, CA. (Home of Cal Poly, aka CubeSat Launch HQ.) Full speed ahead for final integration and delivery!


Current Projects

copper-patchCOPPER, a 1U CubeSat to flight-test the use of a commercial microbolometer (long-wave infrared imager) for Earth observing and space situational awareness. COPPER was SSRL’s entry in the AFRL University Nanosat-6 competition and was selected by NASA to launch in Novemeber 2013 as part of the ELaNa-IV mission.


, a 2U CubeSat developed in partnership with Vanderbilt University to improve modeling of the effects of radiation on modern space electronics. It is SSRL’s entry in the AFRL University Nanosat-7 competition, and was selected by NASA to launch on a future ELaNa flight.


Get Involved

We welcome students of all majors and skill levels, from freshmen through doctoral candidates. No prior experience is required. (If it were easy to fly spacecraft, we wouldn’t need the lab!) If you can give us one hour a week or forty, we can find meaningful work for you. You are only limited by your willingness to work hard and learn.

There are many ways to participate in SSRL: graduate research, undergraduate research, student volunteer, summer intern, senior design and through our formal coursework. Join the SSRL team today!