DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announced plans to launch the nation’s first bachelor’s degree in Commercial Space Operations during a news conference Wednesday at the 16th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C.
The new degree program, which would be offered at the Daytona Beach, Fla., campus of the world’s largest accredited aviation and aerospace academic institution, will supply the commercial spaceflight industry with skilled graduates in the areas of space policy, operations, regulation and certification, as well as space flight safety, and space program training, management and planning.
“As a leading innovator and service provider within the aerospace industry, Embry-Riddle is committed to building an academic program that supports the emerging needs of commercial space enterprise,” said Daytona Beach Campus Chancellor Richard H. Heist, who along with program coordinator Lance Erickson spoke to media and space industry leaders at the two-day conference sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration, Feb. 6-7 at the National Housing Center in Washington, D.C. “This first-of-its-kind degree program would continue to solidify our students’ spot at the forefront of an industry that is sure to grow for decades to come.”
Graduates of the new degree program will have the qualifications needed to fill jobs in management, training and education, policy, safety, program and project planning, human factors, regulation, flight planning and operations. Final approval for the program, slated to begin in Fall 2013, is pending Board of Trustees approval in March.
“Embry-Riddle’s new Commercial Space Operations degree is one of the most innovative non-engineering degrees in the aerospace industry,” said Erickson, professor of applied aviation sciences at Embry-Riddle and creator of the program. “It is an important link between Embry-Riddle’s expertise in aerospace education and the needs of commercial space industries and regulatory agencies.”
“When we were planning this degree, our advisors from the commercial space industry said they couldn’t wait to hire our graduates,” Erickson added.
The rapid expansion of commercial spaceflight operations is fostered by NASA’s commercial cargo and crew development programs and by entrepreneurs developing capabilities for suborbital spaceflight, orbital space habitats, space resource prospecting, and other commercial ventures. The industry has also seen the growth of FAA-licensed spaceports nationwide and is moving toward an entirely new regulatory regime to ensure public safety and national security.