Aerospace Engineering Students Working to Support Human Missions to the Moon and Mars

Team meeting in the Computational Guidance and Control Lab in Building-A (left to right: Sandoval, Juarez, Callan, Lu, Borders, and Davami)

Pictured L-R: Sergio Alfonso Sandoval EscobedoAdrian Juarez, Ryan Callan, Dr. Ping Lu, Kaylin BordersChristopher Davami

NASA’s Artemis program will send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon and to pave the way for human Mars missions. To make it happen, NASA is working with diverse partners in industry and academia to develop the innovative technologies. In 2021, San Diego State University won one of the seven awards by NASA’s Minority-Serving Institution Space Technology Artemis Research (M-STAR) program.

Led by Dr. Ping Lu, a professor and Chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, the M-SATR project at SDSU is entitled “Propellant-Optimal Integrated Entry and Powered Descent Guidance for Human-Scale Mars Missions”. This project will develop the method and algorithms for integrated optimal entry, descent, and landing (EDL) guidance for human Mars missions with pin-point precision. This project will provide advanced tools and capability for human-scale Mars EDL missions. Furthermore, this project will enhance the knowledge and skills of the faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students in this NASA-unique research area.

Concerted efforts are being made to develop and strengthen collaboration with NASA Centers for the enrichment of the research program with real-world experience, and offer opportunities for students to benefit from first-hand interactions with NASA engineers and summer internships.

Five SDSU Aerospace Engineering students are working with Dr. Lu in this project. They are Sergio Sandoval (PhD student), Adrian Juarez (MS Student), Ryan Callan (MS student), Christopher Davami (undergraduate), and Kaylin Borders (undergraduate). All except for Ryan (who is an active-duty Space Force officer) will be doing internships at NASA field centers in summer 2022.