Commercial spaceflight operations at CU

Last week I met Bradley Cheetham (Brad), who is the instructor responsible for the course on commercial spaceflight operations at CU, and a person with a strong interest and wide connections in the space sector (

Brad explained that the idea of the course emerged around the time the 2010 US National Space Policy was issued. Brad was then actively involved in the setting up of the FAA Centre of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. The purpose of the course was to close the gap between academia, government and industry. The course was designed to bring to the classroom real problems from industry, exposing students to them so that they get used to applying their technological knowledge to solve those problems and learn how to operate in a business environment

In its present format, around a third of the course content is devoted to engineering and space market, a quarter of the course is devoted specifically to telecommunications and the remainder are guest lectures from industry representatives.

In addition to his academic work, Brad is the CEO and President of Advance Space and the COO of BlackSwift Technologies.

BlackSwift Technologies ( is a company specializing in high capability, small unmanned aircraft systems. The company specialises in soil moisture measurement, which has a variety of applications, including farming, forestry and water management.

Advance Space ( provides mission design and spacecraft navigation services, new algorithms to improve system efficiency and capabilities, and advance guidance technologies to enable in-space autonomy. It also brings machine learning, big data analytics, and open source software to the aerospace industry.

Brad points out that public funding is absolutely critical to cutting edge technologies. NASA provided funding for some of his companies’ projects that resulted in technologies that the companies have turned into marketable products and services.


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