Aerospace is a broad term generally used to collectively describe the space, earth, and outer atmosphere. Aerospace activity is highly diverse, with a host of military, commercial and civil applications. Aerospace technology is the study and use of space, particularly in outer space and the aerospace environment. Aerospace is also used in search and rescue operations, and in national security matters.
The aerospace sector produces everything from satellites to aircraft and space shuttles. The U.S. Air Force, NASA, and several defense contractors rely on these industries for their continued existence and operation. Aerospace engineers design, manufacture, and operate all elements of space and aerial vehicles. Many aerospace engineers have received advanced degrees in aerospace science and engineering.
Aerospace material scientists and technologists manufacture all components and parts of an aircraft. Aerodynamics is a branch of physics that studies the interaction of air, space, and the objects in between. This field of study helps to optimize the performance of vehicles and space systems. Aerodynamics engineers determine the lift, weight, and drag of an aircraft and design the most efficient routes for transportation through air. These engineers also inspect the integrity of various air-moving products, such as wings, airframes, landing gears, and control surfaces. They analyze all types of flight conditions, such as flying at various speeds, stopping and climbing, and the distribution of forces on an aircraft.
Mechanics is another branch of aerodynamics that describes how an aircraft is driven and piloted. Mechanics designs build and fly the various components of an aircraft. They are responsible for analyzing, testing, and maintaining the performance of all mechanical systems. They perform flight test activities, develop flight plans, and oversee the maintenance of the aircraft. Some mechanics have involved only in-flight preparations while other work on the airplane’s avionics and computer systems. Mechanics use all the tools of aerodynamic science to design, manufacture, and test components used in a flight.
Propulsion systems are used to alter the path of an aircraft. These are typically either combustion or electric motors or both. Propulsion is one of the most important aspects of aerospace research and development. Aerospace engineers design, build and operate the major components of the various propulsion systems used in aircraft.
As you can see, there is a lot of responsibility involved in the aerospace engineering industry. Many of these positions require long-term commitments, even when a project is complete. However, if you have an interest in becoming an aerospace engineer, you may want to consider astronautical engineering as your future career.