Dr. Kira Jorgensen Abercromby obtained her undergraduate degree from UCLA in Astrophysics, and her masters and Ph.D. from University of Colorado, Boulder in Aerospace Engineering. Her thesis entails determining the material type of orbiting objects for material identification of orbital debris.

Following graduation from UCB, Dr. Abercromby took a post-doctorate position at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas where she continued her thesis work on determining the physical properties of orbital debris. Following the post-doc, Dr. Abercromby was hired initially by Lockheed Martin and eventually Jacobs Engineering in the Orbital Debris Program Office in Houston. She became the project manager of the group toward the end of her tenure in Houston and was able to take optical measurements of orbital objects in various locations such as Kitt Peak, Mauna Kea, HI, Haleakala, HI, and CTIO near La Serena, Chile.

She began teaching at Cal Poly in the Aerospace Department in 2008. Throughout her tenure she has been teaching courses on orbital mechanics (undergraduate and graduate) and co-development the space environments course and lab (one of only a few departments in the nation have a space environments course and lab).  In addition, she rotates through teaching the MATLAB programming course and the first time on campus Introduction to Aerospace. Recently, she developed an elective course on Human Spacecraft Design.  Her research interests are in orbital mechanics, orbital debris, space environment effects on materials, human spacecraft design, and impact testing through electromagnetic railgun impactors. She is married with two daughters and she enjoys running, beach time, being with family, and making fun of 1950’s science fiction movies.


Research Interests

  • Astrodynamics
  • Human Space Flight Design
  • Impact Testing
  • Orbital Debris
  • Space Environmental Effects on Materials

Office Hours for Spring 2024

M: 11:00-12:00PM

T: 9:00-10:30PM (Remote) (Click Here to Schedule)

W: 11:00-12:30PM