“Houston, We Have Graduates”

Gwen Mazzotta/CSO Student

This December, the Commercial Space Operations (CSO) degree program will launch its first three graduates! Brittoney Green, Tara Halt and I will see if we have “the right stuff” to make it in the space world. Truthfully, I am positive the CSO program and faculty have done an excellent job in preparing us for this exciting moment.

The CSO degree program is still in its infancy, yet space nerds have come out in full force to shatter projections of enrollment as numbers continue to grow with each semester. Still, many people, even on this campus, are not sure of what CSO means. CSO students are all too familiar with hearing the question, “what exactly is Commercial Space Operations?” Perhaps it is so difficult to define because the commercial space industry is interdisciplinary in itself.

The CSO degree program showcases this through a mixed curriculum, which fills the gap between the two extremes of engineering and business.

All students take courses in international space policy and law, spaceflight operations and training, commercial spaceflight regulation and licensing of launch vehicles and launch sites, space operations planning and hazard analysis, project management, human factors, satellite and spacecraft systems, and others. Clearly a lot is involved in the space industry, and the growth of commercial and private space continues to be multifaceted as well.

Students and faculty have received encouragement from the industry and government that the CSO program comes at a perfect time. As commercial and private space continues to grow, all players realize that the “name of the game” of space is changing; space is a business now more than ever.

CSO addresses the inevitable gaps that are created by these changes, as government and industry rely on each other for different things now, and competition and money are the ultimate focus. Yet, whether a CSO student wants to go on to contribute to the development of federal regulations for commercial human space flight, become a program manager at SpaceX, or self-start a space flight participant training company, they can find a place in the growing commercial and private space industry.

There will be challenges, but there is no doubt that CSO graduates will go on to do some pretty amazing things in the years to come. Go CSO!