Spaceflight Division, Engineering Directorate

NASA Ames Research Center

Virtual Exhibit Booth: TBA by CubeSat Developers Workshop Team

Please join us by clicking on the corresponding MS Teams hyperlinks underneath each day! NASA Ames Staff members will be on standby to help answer any questions!

April 26: 9:00am to 12:00pm & 1:00pm to 6:00pm 

NASA Ames – Spaceflight Division (9am – 12pm)

NASA Ames – Spaceflight Division (1pm – 6pm)

April 27: 9:00am to 12:00pm & 1:00pm to 5:30pm

NASA Ames – Spaceflight Division (9am – 12pm)

NASA Ames – Spaceflight Division (1pm – 530pm)

April 28: 9:00am to 12:00pm & 1:00pm to 2:30pm

NASA Ames – Spaceflight Division (9am – 12pm)

NASA Ames – Spaceflight Division (1pm – 230pm)

Sally Cahill

Division Chief

Sally Cahill is the chief of the Engineering Directorate’s Spaceflight Division at NASA Ames Research Center. She has 20+ years of experience managing aerospace programs and projects and has been at NASA since 2003. Sally earned her Ph.D. in applied science-engineering through the joint Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory-University of California, Davis doctorate program. She also holds an MBA from Santa Clara University.

David Mauro

Deputy chief

David Mauro is the deputy chief of the Engineering Directorate’s Spaceflight Division at NASA Ames Research Center. He was formally a KBR Senior Engineer and Manager working as a contractor for NASA Ames Research Center since 2010. At Ames, David leads the Mission Design Center whose goal is to assess how potential future robotic missions can explore the Solar System, A graduate of the Italian Naval Academy with 14 years of professional military experience as an Officer of a Marine rifle assault company. He holds degrees in Engineering, Naval and Maritime Science and Space Studies. Besides several military medals and commendations and NASA group awards, he is also the recipient of the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal. 

Ben Bradley

Spaceflight Projects Manager

Ben Bradley is the spaceflight projects manager for the Spaceflight Division. He oversees project managers working on small spacecraft projects through all mission phases including initial formulation, development, integration test, delivery and operations.

Alan Cassell

Mission Design Center Lead

Alan Cassell received a B.S. & PhD in Chemistry from the University of South Carolina. Currently, Alan is acting Mission Design Centers lead as well as Deputy Chief of Code TS, the Entry Systems and Technology Division.  Previously he was the System Engineer in the Entry Systems and Vehicle Development Branch at NASA Ames Research Center supporting re-entry mission analysis, design and testing. Additionally, he was the project systems engineer for The ADEPT project and focused on a sounding rocket flight experiments to advance the technical maturation of ADEPT for various re-entry mission applications.

Andres Dono Perez

Flight Dynamics Lead

Andres Dono is the Flight Dynamics team lead for the Spaceflight Division at NASA Ames Research Center. He manages the flight dynamics and navigation analysis for spacecraft missions within the center, from early concept studies to flight. The team has extensive experience in several astrodynamics disciplines including trajectory design, orbit simulations, relative motion, and mission operations, among others.

Figure 1: Click the image for more information

OUR MISSION:  Deliver innovative cost-effective missions from concept design through mission development, hardware design, development, test, integration, execution, and operations.

WHO WE ARE: Located at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in California’s Silicon Valley, our expertise focuses on cost-effective spaceflight missions:

  1. Mission Design
  2. Flight Dynamics
  3. Systems Engineering, Integration & Test
  4. Spaceflight Projects

WHAT WE DO:  Our focus ranges from concept development and Pre-Phase A mission concepts, to “bigger” small satellite missions, technology and instrument development, and rapid development innovative CubeSat missions.

Sampling of Current Spaceflight Projects

Figure 2: Click the image for more information

BioSentinel is the sole biological experiment set to fly on the Artemis I mission.  

Objective: Development of a biosensor to detect and measure the impact of space radiation on living organisms over long durations BEYOND low-Earth orbit.

Launch Date: Summer of 2022

Figure 3: Click the image for more information

TechEdSat is a series of technology demonstration missions that pairs college and university students with NASA researchers to evaluate new technologies for use in small satellites, or CubeSats.

Objective: Develop ways to bring small payloads from orbit back to Earth by advancing entry, descent, and landing technologies for CubeSats.

Launch Date: The next TechEdSat mission launches in Summer/Fall of 2022

Figure 4: Click the image for more information

The CLICK mission will demonstrate technology to advance the state of the art in communications between small spacecraft as well as the capability to gauge their relative distance and location. CLICK is comprised of two sequential missions.

Objective: CLICK A is a risk reduction mission that will test out elements of the optical communications with a single 3U spacecraft. CLICK B/C will demonstrate full-duplex optical communication crosslink between two 3U’s as well as demonstrate precision ranging capability between the spacecraft.

Launch Date: CLICK A will launch no earlier than Summer of 2022.

Figure 5: Click the image for more information

Starling mission is advancing the readiness of various technologies for cooperative groups of spacecraft – also known as distributed missions, clusters, swarms. 

Objective: Starling will demonstrate technologies to enable multipoint science data collection by several small spacecraft flying in swarms. The six-month mission will use four CubeSat in low-Earth orbit to test four technologies that let spacecraft operate in a synchronized manner without resources from the ground.

Launch Date: Summer of 2022

Payload Accelerator for CubeSat Endeavors (PACE)

Figure 6: Click the image for more information


PACE is designed to aggressively shorten conventional technology testing timelines for early-stage technologies.

Objective: PACE strives to fly as many technologies as possible and efficiently connect payloads to both suborbital and orbital flight tests that increases the likelihood of a technology being selected for a space exploration mission.

Launch Date: Multiple launches, next launch Fall of 2022

Figure 7: Click the image for more information

The MDC possesses full, end-to-end mission design capability with sophisticated analysis in a collaborative concurrent design environment.  Areas of service include:

  • Concept Maturity Level (CML) progression
  • Spacecraft design and trade studies
  • Feasibility assessments
  • Proposal support

The FD team provides full orbital mechanics support in all mission phases from design, systems engineering, and project management to spaceflight mission and operations. The activities that are supported include:

  • Trajectory design
  • Orbital analysis
  • Navigation
  • Maneuver design
  • Propulsion assessment
  • Orbit determination

Learn More

The NASA Ames Spaceflight Division can partner with any university, company, or government agency for different spaceflight missions. To learn more contact us @

For more information on the Spaceflight Division click here.

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