Civil Space

Mission Area

Civil Space

From the Sun to Pluto and Beyond

Johns Hopkins APL’s Civil Space Mission Area makes critical contributions to NASA and international missions to meet the challenges of space science, engineering, and exploration.

Since the dawn of the Space Age, APL has pushed the frontiers of space science, engineering and exploration. We captured the first picture of Earth from space, invented navigation by satellite, dispatched spacecraft across the solar system from our Sun to Pluto and beyond, and successfully conducted the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test mission. 

We continue to shape the future by providing our nation with innovative and low-cost solutions to its space challenges. Our work includes conducting research and space exploration; development and application of space science, engineering, and technology; and production of one-of-a-kind spacecraft, instruments, and subsystems.


  • Artist's rendering of Dragonfly


    Dragonfly is a NASA mission that will explore Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Led by APL, this revolutionary rotorcraft-lander expedition will study the atmosphere, carbon-based chemistry, and geology of this cold yet Earthlike moon and ultimately advance our understanding of life’s chemical origins.
    Learn more about Dragonfly
  • Artist's rendering of IMAP spacecraft

    Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP)

    Set to launch in 2025, NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission will help researchers better understand what happens at the boundary of the heliosphere, where the Sun’s protective magnetic field ends.
    Learn more about Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP)
  • DART crashing into an asteroid

    Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)

    NASA’s first planetary defense mission—the APL-led Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)—is the first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique, which involves striking an asteroid to shift its orbit and deflect it from Earth.
    Learn more about Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)

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