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The University of Southampton

SESA1015 Introduction to Aeronautics and Astronautics

Module Overview

This is an introduction to Aeronautics and Astronautics, which lays down the foundations of all of the aeronautical and astronautical engineering modules that follow in subsequent years. It includes: a) an aircraft operations element , which creates the context against which the later design modules will have to be viewed by the student, b) a flight mechanics component, an application of the fundamental laws of Newtonian mechanics to the flight of fixed wing aircraft, an essential basis upon which the later mechanics of flight, aerodynamics, propulsion and design modules will be built, and c) a component that focuses on the fundamentals of astronautics.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the fundamental mathematical models of the mechanics of fixed wing flight (SM2m)
  • Understanding of the fundamental behaviour of aerofoils in the context of flight mechanics and aircraft performance (EA1(b))
  • Understanding of concepts from aircraft and spacecraft operations, human factors, physiology, etc. and the ability to evaluate them critically and to apply them effectively in Aeronautics and Astronautics projects (SM6m)
  • Understanding of aircraft and launch vehicle performance principles and the ability to apply them in design engineering (EA1m)
  • Investigating and defining aerospace design problems, including environmental and sustainability limitations (D2)
  • Knowledge and understanding of aspects of the commercial, economic and social context of aerospace engineering (EL2)
  • Awareness of some of the legal context of aviation safety management (EL5)
  • Understanding of contexts in which aerospace engineering knowledge can be applied (P1)
  • Understanding of the need for a high level of professional and ethical conduct in engineering, in the specific context of aerospace engineering (EL1)
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Plan self-learning and improve performance (G2)


INTRODUCTION TO AERONAUTICS (11 lectures) Introduction to aeronautics, key ideas Airline economics Aviation safety and certification Aviation meteorology Aerodromes Humans in the atmosphere – physics, physiology, design, limitations Remotely piloted vehicles and autonomous flight INTRODUCTION TO ASTRONAUTICS (8 lectures) Environment – space environment, near-Earth environment and launch environment Launch vehicles – the rocket equation, the rocket equation applied to launch vehicles, launch system characteristics MECHANICS OF FLIGHT (20 lectures) Flight mechanics: fundamental concepts and definitions Typical aerodynamic characteristics Aircraft performance fundamentals Simple accelerated flight Introduction to longitudinal stability Introduction to aerodynamic controls ENGINEERING ETHICS (one lecture)

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Worked examples and problem sheets • Flight Simulator laboratory Learning activities include • Working through examples in lectures and self-study time • Flight simulator laboratory • Directed reading

Supervised time in studio/workshop1
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

The learning outcomes of this module will be assessed under the Part I Assessment Schedule for FEE Engineering Programmes which forms an Appendix to your Programme Specification. Feedback will be available on the formative work undertaken during the module.


Specialist Lab


MethodPercentage contribution
Part I Assessment Schedule 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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