• Science and Engineering

Science and Engineering


Instrument Engineering


Sigma Space employs a team of discipline-focused professionals who are well respected and recognized in the aerospace industry. Our instrument systems engineers form the core of our engineering services project teams, providing the leadership and technical expertise to help customers develop effective instrumentation solutions. Our other discipline engineering teams form our matrix organization, using their specialized skills to deliver outstanding project support.


Sigma Space designs and analyzes optical systems to ensure optimal performance of customer instruments. We specify custom optics and coatings for complex optical systems in UV, visible, and near-, mid-, and far-infrared spectrums. These optics are experienced in modeling complex optical systems, conducting trade studies and in developing first-order and detailed designs. We also offer full-service optical designs including optical tolerance and error budgeting, stray light analysis, illumination analysis, radiometric analysis, and the ability to specify and select hardware for spaceflight, airborne, and ground applications.

Additionally, we offer optical integration services to assemble, align, calibrate, and text instruments and components- meeting the full range of customer needs.


We conduct thermal design and analysis for spaceflight and airborne platforms. We are experienced in designing, specifying, and analyzing active heating and cooling elements (e.g., strip heaters, thermoelectric coolers) and passive thermal systems (e.g., coolers, radiator plates, and heat pipe radiator systems). Our temperature control solutions entail tailoring instrument thermal systems for temperature-sensitive optical detectors, with a focus on thermal isolation of hardware and techniques to minimize parasitic losses as well as utilizing computational fluid dynamics software and Femap and Pro/ENGINEER Mechanical


When customers need help designing, analyzing or assembling instrument systems, our mechanical engineers deliver. Capabilties include mechanical, optomechanical, and electromechanical design and analysis for instrument systems using the latest CAD modeling and structural FEM tools such as I-DEAS, ProE, and AutoCAD. Our mechanical engineers also assemble and I&T of spaceflight, airborne and ground-based instrument systems as well as development of ground support equipment.


Sigma Space develops electronics and instrument systems for spaceflight, airborne, and ground-based applications, incorporating high-speed digital electronics, low-noise analog electronics, and power electronics. We specialize in field-programmable gate array (FPGA)- based designs and laser-based imaging instrument systems. Our instruments have been used in many NASA high-altitude airborne environments, and in ground-based products autonomously running with continuous data collection. Our expertise in spaceflight electronics design includes design for radiation, vacuum, high-vibration environments, and reliable synchronous FPGA design techniques.

We perform card-level schematic capture and printed circuit card design, selection of radiation-hardened parts, and communication protocols such as SpaceWire and 1553B as well as embedded processors with real-time algorithms. We also perform parts stress analysis, worst-case timing analysis, and system-level modeling to ensure reliability.


Customers that need reliable software solutions for data acquisition and analysis, modeling, or instrument control turn to Sigma Space. Our software team focuses on systems for airborne and spaceflight instruments, and has expertise in architectural definition, algorithm design and analysis, and model-driven software development. Customized programs for mission success also include formal modeling-analysis-verification, design for text, I&T of software-hardware systems, dynamic system modeling and simulation and development and use of custom computer applications. Our team also works with cutting-edge technologies including real-time embedded computing platforms with digital signal processors, reconfigurable computers and aerospace flight computers, military avionics and national instruments LabVIEW and LabWindows/CVI Measurement Studio, MATLAB and IDL.


Sigma Space's mechanical, electrical, and systems engineers efficiently transition instruments from final design to manufacturing and assembly. Our advanced fabrication facilities include a spaceflight-certified CNC machining center with fundamental metrology capability, multiple ESD-certified laboratories, class 10,000 clean spaces and a comprehensive suite of tools, including collimators, interferometers, thermal vacuu, chambers, and electrical analysis equipment. Among our expert I&T staff are GSFC Basic Adhesive Bonding-certified technicians with expertise in optical component bonding, electrical technicians certified to NASA-STD-8739 series, and mechanical technicians experienced in assembling precision optical instruments. From cutting-edge facilities to exceptional professionals, Sigma Space is fully equipped to help customers create mission-ready instruments.

Sigma Space's instrument engineers, scientists, and technicians deliver outstanding instrument engineering services including:



Space and Earth Research

Customer Focused Support

Sigma Space is poised to help clients address some of today’s most pressing scientific challenges, from climate change to resource management. Drawing from a broad range of expertise, we deploy small, efficient teams that understand each customer’s mission, communicate well, and deliver excellent products. These teams are supported by value-added management and are responsive to evolving customer needs. To accelerate exploration, we offer a full suite of research and analysis, including hypothesis generation and data collection and analysis. Since results and models are only as accurate as the data on which they’re based, Sigma Space personnel, with decades of combined experience, calibrate instruments to exacting standards and monitor performance throughout data acquisition. We also develop custom software and manage, integrate, and visualize data for superior outcomes.

With our background in remote sensing, we bring a unique perspective to each project we support, attending to every detail while never losing sight of the big picture. Breakthroughs are waiting to be made, and Sigma Space provides the know-how to transform data into discoveries.

Verification and Validation

As demonstrated by Sigma Space’s success on current and past projects, our verification and validation staff have the expertise to ensure that customer data systems and instruments function optimally—returning reliable, high-quality data.

  • Quality Research and Customized Data Solutions

    To accelerate exploration, we offer a full suite of research and analysis services, including hypothesis generation, concept and proposal development and data collection and analysis. We further assist in remote sensing applications, theoretical modeling, publications, presentations, and peer review.

    Since results and models are only as accurate as the data on which they're based, Sigma Space personnel, with decades of combined experience, calibrate instruments to exacting standards and monitor performance throughout data acquisition. We also develop custom software and manage, integrate, and visualize data for superior outcomes.

  • Customer-Focused Support, From Hypothesis to Publication

    From hypothesis and proposal development to field mission planning, data collection and analysis, and publication of results, Sigma Space scientists, programmers, and data analysts support the complete research life cycle. Areas of expertise include:

    • Hydrology
    • Ecology
    • Climate science (including carbon cycle, polar and glacial ice, and atmospheric research)
    • Geography
    • Planetary science


    We further excel in developing new algorithms and software to meet research requirements. Using languages such as MATLAB, C, and C++, as well as data analysis and manipulation tools like ENVI and IDL, Sigma Space delivers client-driven solutions and quality research results.


Data Services

Data Services

Sigma is leading the effort to develop the ICESat-2 Level 2A signal finding algorithm that identifies the signal photons in the telemetry stream that contains atmospheric and instrumental noise in addition to signal. The results of this algorithm will be input to the higher level product algorithms that determine land ice elevation changes, sea ice freeboard, and vegetation canopy heights.

Sigma is also leading the effort to build the ICESat-2 Science Computing Facility which will provide data management, data distribution, and data analysis tools to to the project science office and science team providing the data and tools required for evaluation and improvement of science retrieval algorithms.

    Working synergistically with instrument calibration and science teams, our staff tests, verifies, and implements software to ensure the production of exceptional image products for research. Our staff also monitors multiple operational data streams to minimize processing delays and problems via automated software, manual checks and reporting as well as performing quality assessments and evaluating potential improvements. Sigma Space provides expert science support to clients who never stop working


    From the smallest project to the largest mission, we have the expertise to provide our clients with end-to-end data services including scientific computing which includes algorithm and application development as well as operational computing that includes system development and operations. Sigma Space also provides clients with additional computational services like data visualization, data archiving, configuration management, and database design and maintenance. These services allow our clients the the production of exceptional images to support their varying research needs and the reassurance that our capabilities drive results.


CNC Machining

CNC Machining

Are your CNC machining needs extremely time sensitive?

The CNC Machine Shop at Sigma Space has been providing advanced CNC machining and fabrication for over 20 years to some of the nation’s most demanding aerospace, defense and scientific clients. The 4,500 sq. foot facility offers flexible work space complete with machinists who have worked in the industry on average of 25 years, and are experts in their craft.

We’re happy to provide a quote for all your CNC machining needs. Contact us at machining@sigmaspace.com or call us at 301-552-6000 to speak directly with one of our experts.
  • Capabilities

    Adept at handling a variety of materials including aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, plastics, fiberglass, and exotics such as Macor, Invar and Kovar and others; our expert machinists work with 3 Axis and 4 Axis CNC machining and milling centers to ensure your project is precisely completed, on time and on budget. We offer free and personal delivery of your completed project if you’re located within 50 miles of our shop.

  • Customers

    Conveniently located in the suburbs of our nation’s capital, Washington DC, and within minutes of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, our customers include a variety of aerospace, defense, government contracting and commercial companies. Most notably NASA, US Air Force, US Army, US Navy, Leidos, Harris Corporation, ATA Aerospace and Thorlabs.