Unraveling the Future of Space Exploration and Innovation
Space exploration has far-reaching effects on our daily lives, influencing technological advancements, medical research and groundbreaking scientific discoveries. With a rich history in the industry, UCF has produced two alumni astronauts and over 50 years of experience in educating future space professionals. The university’s emphasis on space technologies and systems capitalizes on its legacy as the Space University, unparalleled research facilities, and interdisciplinary insights from various fields — including: business, communications, economics, education, healthcare, modeling and simulation, philosophy, political science, and STEM.
At the Forefront of Space Exploration
UCF’s space systems research explores the unknowns of our planetary systems and the cosmos. Inspired by the late physicist Stephen Hawking, UCF researchers strive to unravel the universe’s mysteries. The Stephen W. Hawking Center for Microgravity Research and Education at UCF furthers his groundbreaking discoveries, advances microgravity research, and investigates innovative solutions for space travel and extraterrestrial habitation.
America’s Destination for Space Science
Located just 35 miles from Kennedy Space Center (KSC), UCF’s main campus offers unique access to groundbreaking space initiatives. With more interns sent to KSC than any other university, UCF students receive hands-on training, skill development, and research opportunities that often lead to full-time roles after graduation. These experiences inspire UCF students to recognize the importance of their discoveries and the lasting impact on future generations.
Space Research in Motion
UCF supports research and discovery led by respected faculty that drives a deeper understanding of our universe as we pursue new knowledge and interplanetary exploration.
Key Space Facts From a Planetary Scientist
A UCF faculty member and Florida Space Institute planetary scientist shares what makes space exploration worthwhile, including answers to questions about topics like Apollo 11, technology’s impact on research, and what he thinks the next frontier of space exploration will be.
Making an Impact on the Aerospace Industry
UCF’s aerospace engineering faculty are world-renowned experts in their field, and they are committed to helping students succeed. UCF students have the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research with their faculty mentors, and they are well-prepared for careers in aerospace engineering.
Space Researchers Charting Pathways to Other Galaxies
UCF faculty are driven to uncover the mysteries of the universe to help us better understand our place among it. Their contributions to our collective knowledge of the cosmos helps to make space exploration safer, as we work toward future interplanetary travel.
America’s Space University
Founded in 1963 with the mission to provide talent for Central Florida and the growing U.S. space program, UCF has been making an impact on our state, our nation — and outer space — ever since. The Florida Space Institute, based at UCF, is made up of researchers and educators from UCF in partnership with those at other State University System of Florida institutions. Many of these researchers are tied to major space missions exploring asteroids, comets, exoplanets, Jupiter, the Kuiper Belt, Mars, the moon, Pluto and Saturn.
UCF faculty are part of several NASA missions, including OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons. But our faculty aren’t the only ones doing research in space. UCF alumni have also gone on to take giant leaps in the space industry with companies such as Blue Origin, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, NASA and SpaceX.
Experiments sent to space since 2019 aboard Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic rockets
UCF researchers have asteroids named after them in recognition of their work
Kennedy Space Center employees are UCF alumni
alumni who worked on NASA’s Artemis 1 mission
in NASA awards since 1991
as of Oct. 2022
The planet UCF researchers discovered and named in 2012
A Top School for Engineering, Physics & Planetary Sciences
Top 15 Best Atomic/Molecular Physics Schools
U.S. News & World Report ranked UCF as one of the best in the nation.
Top 20 Most Innovative University in the Nation
U.S. News & World Report ranks UCF as one of the most innovative in its annual list of best colleges.
Graduate Aerospace Engineering Program
Known for producing top aerospace talent, UCF is ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report.
Best Graduate Engineering School
U.S. News & World Reportranks UCF in the top 75 of the nation’s graduate schools.
Best Undergraduate Engineering Program
UCF is ranked in the top 85 programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
The bachelor’s programs in aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.
As new space programs continue to take off from the Central Florida region and beyond, students have an opportunity to break into this exciting industry with a number of space degrees offered at UCF.
Best bachelor’s degrees for a career in space exploration and research
Top master’s and doctoral degrees for advancement in the space industry
Leading business degrees that can be applied to the space field
Creating Stellar Connections
Throughout Florida and the nation, UCF has built a number of relationships with partners who share similar values — striving toward excellence in any endeavor they may undertake. NASA is an example of one such partnership. The university is participating in several major NASA planetary missions and has the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science. Having established programs in space and planetary sciences, UCF has significant input into the nation’s space program. The partnership allows leading researchers at both NASA and UCF to ensure that robotic and human missions are done safely and efficiently.
Nearby Central Florida Research Park is also home to over 120 companies and serves as a hub for the nation’s military simulation and training programs. With its close proximity to UCF’s main campus, researchers and students have an opportunity to collaborate with industry leaders — working together on projects in the sciences, engineering, photonics and optics, and modeling and simulation.
Space Companies Employing UCF Graduates
- Blue Origin
- Kennedy Space Center
- L3Harris Technologies
- Lockheed Martin
- Made in Space
- Northrop Grumman
- Virgin Atlantic
Institutes, Associations and Affiliations
- Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center (AMPAC)
- Federal Aviation Administration
- FIEA (Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy)
- Florida High Tech Corridor
- Florida Space Institute
- Institute for Simulation and Training
- Townes Laser Institute
- Unmanned Aerial Systems Research
UCF Alumni Are Soaring to New Heights
Two space shuttle missions. A three-month stay on the International Space Station. The 10th woman to perform a spacewalk. Nicole Stott ’92 broke barriers during her time as an astronaut. From her start as an operations engineer at Kennedy Space Center, she held different positions before achieving what once seemed like a far-fetched idea: becoming an astronaut. After her last mission, Stott led several groups at NASA before stepping aside to try something new: inspiring students to blend art with science. While sharing her love of both subjects, she spreads a motivational message that “this is our planet, and we need to take care of it.”
Return to the Moon
UCF’s drive for discovery and unique proximity to Kennedy Space Center inspire our graduates, students and researchers to reach for the stars — their passion and ingenuity will take us back to the moon and beyond.