Space engineering is basically the study of the human exploration into space. It encompasses all aspects of space travel, from research to design, from planning and construction to operations and maintenance. The primary focus is on space applications. It covers everything from rocket science to human space flight, from the engineering of space habitats to the construction and launch of space vehicles. It is a very exciting field because it is an ever-changing discipline and because there are several branches of science that are directly involved.
Aerospace engineering, in particular, is the branch of science which deals mainly with aircraft and space vehicles. It also includes some of the research that goes into improving our understanding of space. It has many overlapping and parallel branches: aerospace physics, air/space dynamics, propulsion, aerodynamics, solar systems and astronomy among others. Avionics engineering follows closely on the same lines. Aviators deal with instruments such as computers and other computerized systems.
Astronautical engineering, or the study of space, is divided into two main fields: astrodynamics and aerodynamics. Astrodynamics deals primarily with the motion of celestial bodies in the outer space. Aerodynamics is concerned more with the behavior of gases within the atmosphere, and how those gases affect their own motion. There are also a few other areas which may be considered within these two fields. A good example of this is a phenomenon known as space fog. Space fog is caused when there is no clear air outside the spacecraft, and there is a low pressure below the surface of the water. This low pressure can cause the gas inside the spacecraft to escape.
These two fields are often directly connected, since most of the research and development of human spaceflight and aircraft is done in one or the other of them. However, other branches of science are also involved, including electronics, computers, electronics and communications, solar systems, optics and many other fields. Human space flight involves many more branches of science than just the above mentioned.
There are some of the things that have been learned about human spaceflight over the past several decades that are still unknown to us. Scientists know quite a bit about the way in which gravity is distributed within the atmosphere, how it interacts with other forces, how it affects the Earth's atmosphere and how it helps maintain our orbit. We are not yet certain about how much drag and friction are involved in space flight, what effects it has on space travel and how much space heat is lost due to it. Although we know a lot about the physics of space, we still have a long way to go in understanding how to prevent space debris . . . . . . from interfering with orbiting vehicles. One thing that is certain, though, is that space technology is definitely here to stay.
As more discoveries are made about space, more fields of science will be involved in the space travel community, allowing the field to become more interdisciplinary and expanding as time passes. Some of the other interesting things we will learn about include the importance of space life, the way space works for life and the possibility of human life in space. As more scientists become interested in studying space, more areas of space engineering will be opened up to the public, which will be able to make improvements on existing technologies, even allowing new ones to be created. If you are interested in working on space, it would be a good idea to get a degree in some of these areas.