Space Propulsion Lab

Space Propulsion Lab

Experimental facilities include two 1-meter-diameter vacuum chambers with associated pumping and thrust-measurement equipment. Microwave sources from 2.45 GHz to 20 GHz are available with peak power up 450 kW. Optical and plasma probe diagnostics are used for plasma characterization.

Our experimental facilities also allow for full-scale testing of small spacecraft in a low Earth orbit (LEO)–type environment. The facility is comprised of a vacuum chamber capable of thermal cycling, a plasma source capable of producing streaming ions (1–4 eV) and low-energy electrons (~0.1 eV), and a host of diagnostic tools. Quality assurance tests can be formed at full-scale on 3-U CubeSats (and potentially larger) to assess system or component performance in a realistic plasma environment.

Key Faculty: Sven Bilén



The Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering, established in 1961 and the only aerospace engineering department in Pennsylvania, is consistently recognized as one of the top aerospace engineering departments in the nation, and is also an international leader in aerospace education, research, and engagement. Our undergraduate program is ranked 15th and our graduate programs are ranked 15th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, while one in 25 holders of a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering in the U.S. earned it from Penn State. Our students are consistently among the most highly recruited by industry, government, and graduate schools nationwide.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry. Through an innovative curriculum and world-class instruction that reflects current industry practice and embraces future trends, Penn State Aerospace Engineering graduates emerge as broadly educated, technically sound aerospace engineers who will become future leaders in a critical industry

Department of Aerospace Engineering

229 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2569