About the Facility

The APL Concurrent Engineering Laboratory (ACE Lab) is more than just a facility: It’s an environment built to foster collaboration and bring the talent of APL’s scientists, engineers and leaders together so they can help rapidly develop innovative, groundbreaking and competitive space mission concepts.

Equipped with networked workstations, wireless access, four large displays, drawing boards, modular table configurations, and a moveable wall that can close to isolate a small room for conferencing or open to integrate the entire facility for collaborative work, the ACE Lab is structured to facilitate the collaborative development of a conceptual mission design.

A small team initially identifies the mission’s objective, requirements, constraints and notional design, after which a full team of APL cognizant engineers and scientists who have been specifically chosen to meet the demands of the project is assembled. Staff members lend their expertise and draw upon their experience from flight programs, utilizing their full suite of tools and extensive library of previous missions and concept documentation to work concurrently in the ACE Lab and arrive at a technical and fiscal solution in typically just a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on the maturity level of the concept being produced.

In just the last decade, this process has been used to develop around 40 pioneering concepts that span the gamut in size — Explorer, Discovery, New Frontiers and Flagship class missions — and discipline, including planetary science, space science and heliophysics. These include NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, Dragonfly, and most recently the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer or EZIE mission, which will study electric currents in Earth’s atmosphere.

By relying on engineers with extensive project and flight experience, as well as the full capabilities from across the Lab, the design team is better positioned to develop unique and creative solutions grounded in practical application to better address our sponsor’s or stakeholder’s needs.