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History

 

History of ASTE


The Astronautics and Space Technology Program originated within the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southern California under the name Hypersonics and High-energy Flows Program (sometimes called Nonequlibrium Phenomena Group or Gas Physics Group). It consisted of a broad range of research interests such as hypersonic and supersonic flows, advanced spacecraft propulsion, space exploration, processes in the heliosphere and planetary magnetospheres, atomic and molecular interactions, transport of radiation, plasma and material processing, kinetic theory of gases and plasmas, environmental studies, and statistical physics. 

The faculty members that originated the Hypersonics and High-energy Flows Program in 1986 were:
  • H. K. Cheng, Ph.D., Member of the National Academy of Engineering, Fellow of American Physical Society, Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
  • Daniel A. Erwin. Ph. D. (Current  chair of Astronautical Engineering)
  • Joseph A. Kunc, Ph.D., Fellow of American Physical Society
  • E. Phillip Muntz, Ph.D., Member of the National Academy of Engineering, Fellow of American Physical Society, Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Three more faculty joined the program within the next ten years:
  • Mike Gruntman, PhD.
  • Harold Mirels, Ph.D. Member of the National Academy of Engineering, Fellow of American Physical Society, Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
  • Donald E. Shemansky, Ph.D (NASA Medallist for Exceptional Scientific Achievement).
The current name, the Astronautics and Space Technology Program, was adopted in 1996, when the program became a distinct specialization in the Aerospace Engineering Department. Since 2004, all activities of the Program have been organized as an independent academic unit now called the Department of Astronautical Engineering.