With the increased emphasis on both reliability and multi-functionality in the aerospace industry, active materials are fast becoming an enabling technology capturing the attention of an increasing number of engineers and scientists worldwide. This article reviews the class of active materials known as shape memory alloys (SMAs), especially as used in aerospace applications. To begin, a general overview of SMAs is provided. Their useful properties and engineering effects are described and the methods in which these may be utilized are discussed. A review of past and present aerospace applications is presented. The discussion addresses applications for both atmospheric earth flight as well as space flight. To complete the discussion, SMA design challenges and methodologies are addressed and the future of the field is examined.