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The and tags have seen a decent amount of use so far. I created 1 as a more general term that could be applied to rockets and spacecraft (and, or course, spaceplanes).

At the moment, though, they're being used rather interchangeably, as this question seems to show.

How should we differentiate between the two?

For what it's worth, here are the tag wiki excerpts:

aircraft-design:

For questions about how certain features of an aircraft affect its performance and function, such as engine type or wing configuration

aerospace-engineering:

Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the research, design, development, construction, and testing of aircraft and spacecraft.

Here's a paragraph from the Wikipedia page on aerospace engineering:

Aeronautical engineering was the original term for the field. As flight technology advanced to include craft operating in outer space, the broader term "aerospace engineering" has largely replaced it in common usage. Aerospace engineering, particularly the astronautics branch, is often referred to colloquially as "rocket science", such as in popular culture.


1I love being able to say, "I created aerospace engineering"!

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  • $\begingroup$ While we are on this Aircraft Design and Aerospace Engineering tag topic, should we clean up some tags. $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Feb 16 '15 at 1:35
  • $\begingroup$ @MahendraGunawardena Different tags usually merit separate discussions. This is to avoid answers like, "We should get rid of tag A, but I like tag B, and tag C should be a synonym of tag D." Except in limited circumstances, it's hard to vote on answers that address so many tags at once, unless you happen to agree or disagree with every one of the several arguments being made. If you have another tag in mind that you think needs attention, feel free to start a meta Q&A about it. $\endgroup$ – Air Feb 16 '15 at 21:30
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I prefer because it matches the convention we started out with, where disciplines of engineering get tagged "something-engineering." (Oversimplification; we may want to revisit tagging conventions at a future date, but not in this discussion.)

I dislike because using "design" in tags runs the risk of inviting too-broad questions. Design is an involved and usually complex process, which we are not prepared to support here except by answering specific technical questions. Most of the questions that have been asked so far are related to the design process in one way or another; we don't need to be reminded of that.

If more specific tags are needed for questions in , I can imagine many that seem like they would be appropriate for the right question. Rocketry, gliders, jet-propulsion, and so on. These focus in on specific technologies that users can be experts in; "design" doesn't achieve that in a tag.

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  • $\begingroup$ Should I suggest aircraft-design as a synonym of aerospace-engineering? $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Feb 15 '15 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ I'd rather we retag them. If we need an aircraft tag, e.g. as distinct from spacecraft, so be it; but it doesn't need "design" tacked onto the end. And I suspect most "aircraft-design" questions would be better served by a more specific tag than "aircraft." $\endgroup$ – Air Feb 16 '15 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ -1. Of the bat, the first sentence is wrong. See my answer in this thread for more explanation. $\endgroup$ – Nick Alexeev Feb 17 '15 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Nick You're right, of course, and I withdraw that statement. I stand by the rest. $\endgroup$ – Air Feb 17 '15 at 16:05
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One tag is much more specific than the other. Great to have both in my opinion, just as we have a 'mechanical-engineering' and 'fluid-mechanics'.

I recommend that the aerospace-engineering tag wiki includes the synonym aeronautical engineering in its tag wiki.

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Aircraft design is a subset of aerospace engineering. Calling it a "primary pursuit" is incorrect. Equally important are spacecraft design, launch vehicle design, and so on. Not all of aerospace engineering is aircraft design. Both tags should remain, and should not be synonymized.

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