The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) has built pioneering missions to the frontiers of space since its inception in the 1940s. From the early sounding rocket days to the discovery of the radiation belts, from the launching of some of the nation's first spacecraft to the first landing on an asteroid, APL has made extensive contributions to our nation's space program.
APL has built instruments and missions to targets such as near-Earth asteroids, comets, Pluto, Mercury, the Sun, and our Moon. Continuing these challenges, APL's Civil Space Business Area supports the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as it implements initiatives to explore the far reaches of our solar system.
Structure and Affiliations
NASA has chartered APL to maintain essential capabilities in space mission design, build, and execution. APL is a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) associated with the nation's first research university, The Johns Hopkins University. As a UARC, APL often operates as a trusted agent for the government, and the Laboratory's non-profit status allows the transfer of mature technologies to industry.
In partnership with NASA and other agencies for over 50 years, APL has designed, developed, and launched 66 spacecraft and more than 150 space instruments. The Laboratory has chosen to take on demanding technical and scientific challenges. Since 2000, the Civil Space Business Area has built and launched some of NASA's most technically challenging missions, including MESSENGER to Mercury, New Horizons to Pluto, and STEREO to study the Sun.
Current and Future work
APL built and operates the Van Allen mission to characterize the radiation belts, along with ongoing missions such as New Horizons and MESSENGER.
APL is also performing significant work on engineering and science investigations for Solar Probe Plus, a mission to fly through the Sun’s corona.