Space Flight Operations Training Center (SFOTC): Frequently Asked Questions

January 14, 2020

Capitol host numerous open houses throughout the year, the next open house is scheduled for January 25, 2020 at 9:30 am. Open houses provide prospective students and parents with the opportunity to visit University labs, dorms, meet professors and interact with current students and alumni. During all open houses, The Astronautical Engineering (AE) Space Flight Operations Training Center (SFOTC) provides tours and demos and answers the questions of students and parents. AE professors have complied a list of SFOTC Frequently Asked Questions, which can be found below. We look forward to meeting with students and parents at our next open house.

Any questions not address in the FAQ can be forwarded to

What is the Space Flight Operations Training Center (SFOTC)?

The Space Flight Operations Training Center, established in 2015 between Capitol Technology University and the Hammers Company, is the only center in Maryland geared toward training future students in spacecraft operations. Students are trained by operating a fleet of five virtual satellites using leading industry software packages to replicate a spacecraft Mission Operations Center (MOC).

How realistic are the simulated satellites?

Each spacecraft contains real-world Flight Software (FSW) from NASA’s Earth Observation One (EO-1) mission. Spacecraft Attitude Control System (ACS) and Core Flight System (CFS) are also incorporated to provide students with a realistic spacecraft simulation. The SFOTC spacecrafts are able to model various orbits; positions of the Sun, Earth, and Moon; and various spacecraft subsystems such as reaction wheels, solar panels, etc. This enables students to execute commands and have the spacecraft respond as it would in orbit.

What kind of training do students receive?

Students receive training in spacecraft routine, anomaly, commissioning, launch and mission planning operations. At the conclusion of the program students will be proficient in all spacecraft operation elements currently used by NASA or commercial spacecraft operation centers.

How many AE courses use SFOTC?

Six courses currently use the SFOTC for various simulation exercises.

What is the typical duration of a spacecraft simulation?

Students enrolled in an AE course that employs the SFOTC can expect to use the SFOTC to execute labs, which range from a few minutes to hours, and training exercises, that can run between 1 and 2 weeks. Our AE-350: Autonomous Ground Systems course for example, will use the SFOTC during their course final and the simulations run between 8 to 12 days.

Will students work in teams?

Yes. The main goal for SFOTC is to replicate a spacecraft Mission Operations Center (MOC) environment. As such, students are paired into groups of 2 to 4 and are assigned with serving a required task in operating the spacecraft. This trains students to work in a collective team to resolve spacecraft anomalies and gain valuable experience with team communication.

Can you list the industry software used within the SFOTC?

The SFOTC uses a combination of industry and student developed software packages to operate our fleet of virtual spacecraft, a sample listing is provided below.

Hammers Company:

  • Galaxy Multi-Spacecraft Telemetry and Command System
  • VSAT Spacecraft Dynamic Simulator
  • STARS Spacecraft Trending System

A.I Solutions:

  • FreeFyler Spacecraft Flight Dynamics System

Taitus Software:

  • SaVoir Spacecraft Instrument planning System

CrushFTP Inc:

  • CrushFTP Automated Data Management System

Student Developed:

  • Spacecraft Pass Operational Clock (SPOC)
  • Spacecraft Optimizer Locator Observer (S.O.L.O)

Who Employs SFOTC graduates?

SFOTC graduates leave with all the required knowledge to work in the most advanced Spacecraft Control Centers for both government and commercial entities such as NASA, NOAA, Space Telescope, Hammers Company, One Web and many more.

Why use Simulated Spacecraft vs A Live Spacecraft?

A great question! There are multiple reasons why using a simulated spacecraft is more advantageous than a live mission. While a live spacecraft can provide a complete beginning-to-end learning exercise for students (by using physical equipment such as ground stations, instruments, etc), their cost, availability and configuration make using live satellites to train students in various operational modes difficult. In contrast, a simulator is not constrained by spacecraft availability can be quickly configured for various operational modes and orbits. In addition a simulator’s lifespan can far exceed that of their live spacecraft counterparts.


I want more information or to schedule a site visit:

The University hosts numerous open houses throughout the year and are posted on the University website. The SFOTC are open during these visits. If a student or parent has any questions contact SFOTC at or if you wish to schedule SFOTC contact our great admissions team at