Space Systems Academic Group


James (Jim) Newman, Ph.D.

Code SP, Spanagel Hall, Room 103F

(831) 656-2497, DSN 756-2497, FAX (831) 656-2816


Brij Agrawal*, Distinguished Professor, Ph.D., Syracuse, 1970.

Brannon Chapman, LCDR, USN, Program Officer, M.S., Naval Postgraduate School, 2019.

Alex Bordetsky*, Associate Professor, Ph.D., Chelyabinsk St Tec University, 1982.

Christopher Brophy*, Associate Professor, Ph.D., University of Alabama(Huntsville), 1997.

Matthew Crook, LCDR (ret), Lecturer, M.S., Naval Postgraduate School, 2009.

Ibrahim (Emre) Gunduz*, Associate Professor; Ph.D., Northeastern University,  2006.

James A. Horning, Faculty Associate - Research, M.S., Naval Postgraduate School, 1997.

Jennifer Hudson*, Associate Research Professor, Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2010.

Mark Karpenko*, Research Professor; Ph.D., University of Manitoba, Canada, 2009.

Mathias Kölsch*, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of California at Santa Barbara, 2004.

Young W. Kwon*, Distinguished Professor; Ph.D., Rice University, 1985.

Wenschel Lan, Sr. Lecturer, Ph.D., Naval Postgraduate School, 2015.

Herschel H. Loomis, Jr.*, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1963.

Lara Magallanes, Faculty Associate - Research, Ph.D., Naval Postgraduate School, 2022. 

Ian R. McNab*, Research Professor, Ph.D., Reading University (UK), 1974.

Sherif Michael*, Professor; Ph.D., University of West Virginia, 1983.

Giovanni Minelli, Faculty Associate - Research, Ph.D., Naval Postgraduate School, 2018.

Clay Moltz*, Professor, Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 1989. 

James H. Newman, Professor, Chair of Space Systems Academic Group, Astronaut, Ph.D., Rice University, 1984.

Mara Orescanin*, Assistant Professor, Ph.D., MIT, 2015.

Rudy Panholzer, Professor Emeritus, Volunteer, Ph.D., Technical University, GRAZ, Austria, 1961.

Ronald J. Proulx, Research Professor, Ph.D., Columbia University, 1976.

Charles M. Racoosin, CDR, USN, Ret., Volunteer, Lecturer, M.S., Naval Postgraduate School, 1989.

Marcello Romano*, Professor, Ph.D., Politecnico di Milano, Italy, 2001.

Michael Ross*, Distinguished Professor, Ph.D., Penn State University, 1991.

Alex Savattone, Faculty Associate - Research, B.S., California State University Monterey Bay, 2013.

Christopher Smithtro*, COL, AF, Ret., Sr. Lecturer, Ph.D., Utah State University, 2004.

Michael Stiller, Faculty Associate - Research, M.B.A, University of Wyoming, 2021.

Stephen Tackett, Lecturer, M.S., Naval Postgraduate School, 1995.

Gary W. Thomason, LtCol, USMC Ret., Space Systems, Lecturer; M.S., Naval Postgraduate School, 2003. 

Todd Weatherford*, Professor, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, 1993.

Noah Weitz, Faculty Associate - Research, M.S., California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo, 2018.

(* indicates faculty member has a joint appointment to another department at NPS)

Brief Overview

The Space Systems Academic Group (SSAG) is an interdisciplinary association of faculty and academic professors representing various academic disciplines. The SSAG currently has Chair professorships sponsored by NASA and Naval Space Systems Engineering and Acquisition (SSEA). The Space Systems Academic Group has responsibility for the academic content of the Space Systems Operations and Space Systems Engineering curricula. Instruction is carried out by faculty members attached to the group, as well as by faculty of various academic departments with courses fulfilling the interdisciplinary requirements for space systems curricula. The Space Systems Academic Group approves thesis topics for students in Space Systems Operations. For Space Systems Engineering, the group chairman approves the final thesis in addition to the academic department granting the degree.


Space Systems Operations

The Space Systems Operations students are awarded the Master of Science in Space Systems Operations degree. Degree requirements:

  1. A minimum of 32 quarter-hours of graduate level work is required, of which at least 15 hours must be at the 4000 level.
  2. Graduate courses in at least four different subject areas must be included and in two areas, a course at the 4000 level must be included. There is also a requirement of three courses constituting advanced study in an area of specialization.
  3. Each student is required to write a thesis that is space oriented.
  4. The Chairman of the Space Systems Academic Group must approve all study programs.

Space Systems Engineering

The Space Systems Engineering students can earn a Master of Science degree or a Ph.D. degree. The Master’s degree is offered in one of the following academic areas: Astronautical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, or Physics. The Ph.D. degree is offered in one of the following academic areas: Astronautical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, or Physics. Refer to the degree requirements in the associated departments.

Nuclear Operations

The Nuclear Operations students are awarded Master's of Science in Nuclear Operations. Students must complete 24 credit hours from the Naval Postgraduate School as well as one 12-credit (3 or 4 course) pre-approved nuclear operations-related certificate from either The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Harvard University Extension School, or equivalent courses from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Group Facilities

  • ARM (Articulated Robotics Manipulator) Laboratory
  • Center for Radiation Hardened Electronics
  • Cognitive Systems Laboratory
  • CubeSat Development Lab
  • DARK MIRROR (Spacecraft Engineering & Operations) Laboratory
  • FLTSATCOM Satellite Operations Lab
  • GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) Laboratory - Ross Magnetic Attitude Control Test Lab
  • Nanosat Advanced Concepts Laboratory
  • NPS-AFRL Optical-relay Spacecraft Lab
  • NPS Vision Lab
  • Photogrammetric System ID Laboratory
  • Rocket Propulsion Lab
  • Small Satellite Development and Test Lab
  • Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics & Control Laboratory
  • Spacecraft Robotics Laboratory
  • Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility

Space Systems Course Descriptions

SS Courses