In December of 1982, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, with the cooperation and support of the MITRE Corporation, initiated a primarily undergraduate educational program to develop experiments to be flown onboard a NASA Space Shuttle. Christened the MITRE WPI Space Shuttle Program, it sponsored the development of five educationally meritorious experiments over a period of four years. Although the experiments were ready to fly in early 1986, the Challenger disaster delayed their flight until the Spring of 1991. The delay notwithstanding, the benefits of the first program were sufficient to justify the development of a second set of experiments. More comprehensive in scope, this new venture, named the Advanced Space Design Program, addresses both technical and social areas of interested related to space flight. This paper presents a general historical overview and self-assessment of WPI's space design programs. Although some of the material presented has been published elsewhere, most of the material presented is new in that it represents an analysis of the problems and pitfalls we have encountered over the past nine years.


Mechanical Engineering



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