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SESA6057 Spacecraft Engineering Design

Module Overview

This module builds on the astronautics modules in the 2 nd and 3rd year but concentrates on the application of the techniques taught to the current requirements of the space industry. This is done by supplementing the taught material with case studies and speakers from the UK and European Space industry. As a result this module provides the background to employment in the space industry.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To develop an understanding of spacecraft system engineering and the role of subsystem design.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • To develop an understanding of spacecraft system engineering and the role of subsystem design.


Space Environment and its Effect on Spacecraft Design and Human Spaceflight - Topics to be covered include: space debris mitigation and remediation, radiation, space weather and space climate. Orbit Design - Topics to be covered include: orbit selection for different mission types, constellations for remote sensing and communications. Spacecraft subsystems - Topics to be covered include: Power (mission types, architectures, budgets), thermal control and Telecommunications (onboard processing and data handling for Earth, science, communications and human missions). • Case Studies - System Case Studies:satellite navigation system and a remote sensing mission. The advantages and disadvantages of trade-offs will be explored. Industrial Speakers - Topics will be introduced at the beginning of the module.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures, including slide and video presentations, and example classes. • Industry speakers. Learning activities include • Directed reading. • Individual work to understand and master the course content, with the objective of successfully solving problems. • Application of course content to astronautics-based Group Design projects.

Follow-up work36
Completion of assessment task8
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Wider reading or practice18
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

P.W. Fortescue, J.P.W. Stark and G.G. Swinerd (editors): (2003). 'Spacecraft Systems Engineering. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 20%
Examination  (120 minutes) 80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite SESA3039 Advanced Astronautics.

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