Texas A&M Joins Multimillion-Dollar Moon Orbit Tracking Project
Texas A&M University is joining a multi-university team on a major research project to track objects orbiting the moon. The Air Force Research Laboratory is awarding up to $5 million over five years for the Space University Research Initiative (SURI).
“The SURI is an outstanding initiative to train our next-generation workforce. We look forward to carrying out creative research aimed at addressing astronautical challenges in cislunar space,” said Dr. Manoranjan Majji, an associate professor and Josey Family Foundation Faculty Fellow in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M.
The collaborative project aims to develop new capabilities to improve space domain awareness. Currently, NASA and the Air Force can monitor objects like satellites, asteroids and debris in low Earth orbit. This research seeks to expand this ability to high Earth orbits.
“This is an exciting opportunity to transform the way in which we approach and solve complex problems in cislunar space domain awareness and to enable continued safe access to critical regimes in space,” said Dr. Kyle DeMars, an associate department head and associate professor in the aerospace engineering department at Texas A&M.
Given the recent jump in government and commercial space explorations, including NASA’s return to the moon, tracking objects in higher orbit is critical. The systems currently being used for space domain awareness are limited, so the research from this project will be instrumental in developing advanced technology and systems to track objects influenced by the moon’s gravity.
“This win will help us continue to have a major role in research in space domain awareness in cislunar space and provide excellent products to the Space Force,” said Dr. Terry Alfriend, a University Distinguished Professor and holder of the Jack E. and Frances Brown Chair II in the aerospace engineering department at Texas A&M. “We are part of an excellent team and look forward to the major challenges that exist in this area of research.”
A team from the University of Colorado Boulder is leading the project, with collaboration from the Georgia Institute of Technology and L3Harris Technologies.