Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has announced the first college degree in commercial space operations.

"The degree allows students of my generation to get a jump-start on this exciting new industry," says Rebecca Zgorski, a student who helped design the curriculum at the Florida, US university. "The commercial space industry is still budding."

Around 15 students a year will likely pursue the major, says Zgorski, and a number of students in other fields have expressed an interest in a double major.

Commercial spaceflight is a new field even within aviation, with several companies springing up within a few short years to build launch vehicles and spacecraft. One commercial cargo provider, SpaceX, has twice flown to the International Space Station, and competitor Orbital Sciences is due to test launch its Antares rocket in April.

Embry-Riddle, one of the few universities dedicated solely to aviation-related disciplines, is highly regarded within the aviation community.

Source: Flight International