Further Information about Aerospace Engineering

Looking at my last blog post, I have come to realize I did not give you enough information to fully understand aerospace engineering.  I think it is important to fully understand aerospace engineering before we begin to discuss its impact on the space shuttle projects.  I think in this blog post I will present to you a history of aerospace engineering and then list some elements of the field.

History

Sir George Cayley, dated from the last decade of the 18th to the mid 19th century, was a pioneer in aeronautical engineering.  He is credited to be the first to separate the forces of lift and drag.  Some key elements of aerospace engineering were understood by scientists in the 18th century.  Concepts and skills of other branches of engineering and early experiments developed the early knowledge and understanding of aeronautical engineering.  Aeronautical engineering was further developed in the 1910s through the designing of military aircraft during World War I, following the successful flight of the Wright brothers.

Aerospace engineering was defined in Feb 1958, considering the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space in a single realm, and thereby encompassing aircraft (“aero”) and spacecraft (“space”).  In the same year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded in response to the Cold War.  US aerospace engineers launched the first US satellite on 31 Jan 1958 in reaction to the launch of the USSR’s Sputnik launch on 4 OCt 1957.

Elements

  • Fluid mechanics– the study of fluid flow around objects
  • Astrodynamics– the study of orbital mechanics
  • Statics– the study of mechanics on physical bodies in static equilibrium
  • Dynamics– the study of the causes of motion and changes in motion
  • Mathematics- specifically calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra
  • Electrotechnology– the electronics within engineering
  • Propulsion- the energy which moves vehicles through air or space
  • Control engineering– the study of control theory within systems having predictable behaviors
  • Aircraft structures- the design of the physical configuration of a craft
  • Materials science- the study of the properties of matter
  • Solid mechanics– the study of the behavior of solid matter under external actions
  • Aeroelasitcity– the interaction between aerodynamic forces and structural flexibility
  • Avionics– the design and programming of computer systems on aircrafts and spacecrafts
  • Risk and reliability- the study of assessment techniques and the mathematics involved in the quantitative methods
  • Noice control- the study of the mechanics of sound transfer
  • Flight test- the gathering of data during a craft’s flight and the analysis of this data to evaluate flight characteristics
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