Astronautics, the Oldest

The Air Force Academy celebrated the creation of the “world’s oldest astronautics department” last week, marking its 50th anniversary, according to a March 7 academy release. During its 50 years, the program has “launched the careers of countless space pioneers and helped establish America’s asymmetric space dominance,” wrote Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne in a congratulatory letter. The department has produced hundreds of cadets with degrees in astronautical engineering, space operations, engineering sciences, and systems engineering—and taught every cadet at least one introductory astronautics course. Cadets in the program designed and helped build the academy’s fleet of FalconSAT satellites, one of which launched last year with five DOD scientific experiments now controlled by cadets at the academy’s ground control station.