This module is intended for anyone interested in pursuing in more detail the space part of aerospace engineering. It looks at each of the key subsystems of a spacecraft in detail. It also introduces the overall theme of space systems engineering by emphasising the interfaces between subsystems and the iterative nature of spacecraft design and spacecraft systems engineering.
Aims and Objectives
Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- An understanding of the basics of orbital mechanics.
- A basic understanding of the most important spacecraft subsystems and how these interact with each other.
- An understanding of what space systems engineering is and what the main types of spacecraft are in terms of their functionality.
- An understanding of the environment that a spacecraft has to operate in and some basic knowledge of how this environment can affect the spacecraft in terms of operation and reliability.
Spacecraft Systems Engineering (2 lectures)
- Spacecraft systems engineering
- Anatomy of a spacecraft
- Different types of spacecraft with examples
Space Environment and its Effects on Spacecraft Design (4 lectures)
- Launch environment.
- Solar influence on space environments
- High energy radiation environments
- Low energy plasma environment
- Space Particulate environment(man-made space debris)
- Effects on materials - high vacuum, atomic oxygen, UV, particle radiation.
Orbit Dynamics and Mission Analysis (3 lectures)
- Orbit selection for different mission types,
- Basic orbital mechanics and Keplerian dynamics(conic sections)
- Hohmann transfer
- Patched conics - interplanetary trajectories, swing-by manoeuvres
- Perturbations affecting Earth orbit operations - gravity, air drag, 3rd-body gravity, solar radiation pressure
Attitude Control (6 lectures)
- Attitude control overview
- Disturbance torque analysis
- Attitude sensors (Sun, Earth horizon, Stars)
- Summary of internal and external control torquers
- Attitude determination strategies
Spacecraft Propulsion (3 lectures)
- Launch vehicles
- Basics of chemical propulsion(solid, liquid and hybrid)systems.
- Electric propulsion fundamentals
- Secondary propulsion systems (cold gas, monopropellant, bipropellant and electric).
- Propellant management in zero gravity.
Spacecraft Power (4 lectures)
- Solar cell arrays
- Radio-isotope thermoelectric generators(RTGs)
- Fuel cells
- Power regulation and distribution
- EMC and EMI
Thermal Control (3 lectures)
- Passive and active thermal control methods, passive radiator thermal dynamics.
- Comprehensive thermal mathematical model.
- Thermal vacuum testing.
Communications (3 lectures)
- Tele-communications(techniques of radio communications and payload)
- Telemetry,Tracking and Command (TT&C)
On-board data handling (6 lectures)
- Low-level building blocks/support components
- On-board computers
- Remote interface units
- On-board buses and Data networks
Revision lectures (2 lectures)
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching methods include:
- 36 lectures, including slide and video presentations, and example classes.
- An industrial visit (subject to availability).
Learning activities include:
- Directed reading
- Individual work to understand and master the course content, with the objective of successfully solving problems
|Completion of assessment task||2|
|Wider reading or practice||66|
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||18|
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
(29 July 2011). Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD (Space Technology Library, Vol. 28).
Fortescue, Swinerd & Stark (Editors) (2011). Spacecraft Systems Engineering (4th Edition). John Wiley & Sons.
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
This is how we’ll assess you if you don’t meet the criteria to pass this module.
An internal repeat is where you take all of your modules again, including any you passed. An external repeat is where you only re-take the modules you failed.
Repeat type: Internal & External