Human Spaceflight Operations: Lessons Learned from 60 Years in Space – Online Short Course (Starts May 7, 2024) 7 May - 27 June 2024 Online

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  • From May 7 – June 27, 2024 (2-2.5 Hour Lectures, Tues/Thurs, 34 hours total)
  • Every Tuesday and Thursday at 1300-1530 Eastern Time (all sessions will be recorded and available for replay; course notes will be available for download)
  • Human Spaceflight Operations is the ONLY course of its kind on the subject of Space Operations. It is presented by a cadre of 16 space operations experts with vast experience who will share their knowledge and insights. Speakers include Flight Directors, Flight Controllers, Astronauts, and Mission Engineers, who have collectively published the AIAA Textbook with the same title as this course.
  • This course is ideal for anyone working in the space industry as part of a current or future national or international space program, private space enterprise, human, or robotic mission. The topics cover the primary technical disciplines related to spaceflight operations. In each case, the essential concepts and evolution of the systems and technology are discussed in some detail, but the focus is on how spaceflight operations are performed. Lessons learned are derived from incidents that occurred during actual space missions.
  • Includes all lecture notes as well as an eBook copy of the instructors’ textbook, Human Spaceflight Operations: Lessons Learned from 60 Years in Space (AIAA, 2021).
  • All students will receive an AIAA Certificate of Completion at the end of the course

This course aims to share the collective experience from over 60 years of human spaceflight operations. The experience and expertise of the many instructors is unmatched in this field. Their goal is to pass on their insight to the next generation of space engineers, designers, operators, and crew. The lessons learned are applicable to anyone working in the space industry. The course topics span the full range of operational disciplines involved in the planning and execution of human spaceflight. This includes all the typical mission control center specialties as well as others such as training, ground operations, safety, and onboard crew operations. For each topic, the fundamentals and the evolution of the systems and operational methods are explained. Case studies from spaceflight missions provide the basis for lessons learned that are integrated into operational practice. This is not a course on space system design, of which there are many. The aim is to shine light on the subject of space operations, as distinct from engineering design. However, the most important lesson is perhaps that operational requirements must be considered very carefully in the design process. It is the hope of the instructors that through the process of explaining how things really work in Space and Mission Control, future missions can benefit from the experience (and mistakes) of so many pioneers that have come before.


  • Introduction to Human Spaceflight Operations
  • Mission Integration and Execution
  • Mission Engineering
  • Space-Based Power Systems
  • Environmental Control and Life Support Systems
  • Command, Control, and Communication
  • Thermal Control
  • Trajectory Design and Operations
  • Guidance, Navigation, Control, and Propulsion
  • Extravehicular Activity
  • Space Robotics
  • Science and Payload Operations
  • Spaceflight Medical Operations
  • Mission Planning
  • Mission Safety
  • Astronaut Operations
  • Detailed course outline below
This course provides a comprehensive multi-disciplinary background for junior or senior space professionals in all aspects of spaceflight operations. In particular, it can give subsystem specialists a solid understanding and awareness of other interconnected disciplines. It is ideal for new employees trying to get up to speed with the concepts, terminology, structure and methods employed to conduct safe and successful human spaceflight missions. The advanced engineer, operator or manager will gain valuable insights from the many lessons learned.

COURSE FEES (Sign-In To Register)
- AIAA Member Price: $1495 USD
- Non-Member Price: $1795 USD
- AIAA Student Member Price: $995 USD

Classroom hours / CEUs: 
32 classroom hours / 3.2 CEU/PDH

Cancellation Policy: A refund less a $50.00 cancellation fee will be assessed for all cancellations made in writing prior to 5 days before the start of the event. After that time, no refunds will be provided.

Contact: Please contact Lisa Le or Customer Service if you have questions about the course or group discounts (for 5+ participants).



Mission Integration and Execution
  • Mission Operations – The formation of a tightly integrated, efficient, and effective operational team
  • Principles of Mission Control – Foundations for values, culture and teamwork
  • Plan, Train, Fly – The process of flight operations
  • Cultural Integration – Local, Regional, Global
  • Fundamentals of Flight Operations – Case studies and lessons learned
  • Human Factors
  • Spaceflight Resource Management
  • Team Interactions and Interdependency
  • Philosophy of Failure and Redundancy Management
  • Guidance for Future Mission Control Centers
Mission Engineering
  • The Evolution of Mission Engineering – Mercury through Space Shuttle and ISS
  • A Bridge between the Designers and Mission Control
  • Assumptions, Constraints and Operational Limits
  • Simplified Analysis
  • Time Scales of Solution Engineering
  • Levels of Awareness
  • The Importance of Data
  • Lessons Learned for Future Missions
Space-Based Power Systems
  • Power Systems for Spacecraft – History and evolution
  • Power System Elements and Design
  • Power System Architectures – ISS as most complex example to date.
  • Sizing, Degradation, Operational Constraints
  • Power Operations – Monitoring and system Interactions
  • Malfunction Analysis and Criticality of Data
  • Failure Modes and Redundancy
  • Practical Examples and Case Studies
Environmental Control and Life Support Systems
  • The Evolution of Life Support Systems
  • Crew Support Requirements
  • Atmosphere Control and Supply
  • Atmosphere Revitalization
  • Fire Detection and Suppression
  • Temperature and Humidity Control
  • Water Recovery and Management
  • Regenerative Life Support
  • Failure Management and Emergencies
Command, Control and Communication (C3)
  • The Evolution of Space Communications
  • Communication Theory and Applications
  • Command and Data Handling Systems and Processes
  • Space Shuttle and ISS C3 Systems
  • Crew Control, Monitoring and Command Interfaces
  • Space C3 Lessons Learned
  • The Future of C3
Thermal Control
  • The Thermal Environment of Space
  • Thermal Control - Background Theory (Conduction, Convection, Radiation)
  • Elements of a Spacecraft Thermal Systems – Active and Passive Thermal Devices
  • Thermal Control Operations—Mission Control and On-Orbit
  • Support and Interactions with Other Systems
  • Failure Modes, Redundancy and Malfunction Response
  • Practical Examples and Case Studies
Trajectory Design and Operations
  • Trajectory Design from Gemini through Apollo and Shuttle/ISS
  • Orbital Mechanics Concepts – Time systems, Coordinate systems, orbital elements, 2-body equations, perturbations, propagation methods, spacecraft attitude, maneuvers.
  • Spacecraft Navigation
  • Launch Windows
  • Collision Avoidance
  • Burn Targeting Operations
  • Rendezvous Strategies
  • Mission Monitoring and Analysis Tools
  • Off-Nominal Scenarios
  • Lessons for Future Missions
Guidance, Navigation, Control (GNC) and Propulsion
  • Architecture of GNC Systems
  • Development and Operations of Navigation (Position and Attitude) Sensors
    • State Vector Determination
    • Ascent and Entry Navigation
    • Fault Detection Isolation & Recovery (FDIR)
  • Powered Flight Guidance Systems - Ascent Guidance and Aborts
  • Entry Guidance – Capsules vs Space Shuttle
  • Spacecraft Control Systems
    • Propulsive vs Gyro Attitude Control
    • Control/Structure Interactions
    • Manual Control Modes - Requirements for Human Rated Spacecraft
    • Hand Controllers and Handling Qualities
  • Propulsion Systems
    • Thrusters
    • Orbital Maneuvers, Attitude Maneuvers
    • Propellant Gauging and Management
  • Case Studies and Lessons Learned
Extravehicular Activity
  • History and Evolution of Extravehicular Activity
  • Spacesuit Systems and Design Considerations
  • Airlock Operations and Pre-Breathe Protocols
  • EVA Tools, Equipment, Interfaces
  • EVA Training and Facilities – Neutral Buoyancy, Zero-G, Virtual Reality
  • Mission EVA Development
  • New Challenges for the Spacewalks of the Future – Moon & Mars
  • Case Studies and Lessons Learned
Space Robotics
  • Types of Space Robotics – Probes, Landers, Manipulators
  • Challenges of Space vs Terrestrial Robots
  • Design of Robotic Systems – Space Shuttle and ISS Systems
  • Principles of Space Manipulators
    • Work envelope, singularities, joint limits, self-collision
    • Reference frames
    • Forward-Inverse kinematics
    • Modes of Operation – Automatic, Manual
  • Failure Management and Response – Redundancy and fault tolerance
  • Operational Considerations and Tools – Trajectory planning
  • ISS Robotic Operations – Capture, Contingency Procedures, EVA Support
  • Team Coordination – Ground and crew communication
  • Training and Facilities – Preflight crew and ground, onboard currency
  • Lessons Learned and Future Robotic Operations
Science and Payload Operations
  • Evolution of Payload Operations – Skylab, Spacelab, Space Shuttle and ISS
  • ISS Timeline—From the Perspective of Payload Operations
  • ISS - A One-of-a-Kind Research Facility
  • Scope of Onboard Science - Facilities and Capabilities
  • Payload Operations Integration
    • Strategic, Tactical and Operational Phases
    • Development, installation, operations, analysis
  • Payload Operations Case Studies and Lessons Learned
  • Science and Research Operations in the Future
Spaceflight Medical Operations
  • Astronaut Health
  • Space Physiology – Launch, Microgravity, Landing
    • Space Motion Sickness, Cardiovascular Effects, Musculoskeletal
    • Neurovestibular, Radiation, Toxicology, Immunology, Microbiology, Nutrition
  • Spaceflight-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS)
  • Medical Aspects of Spacewalking (EVA)
    • Barotrauma, Decompression Sickness
    • Evolution of Pre-Breathe Protocols
  • The Suit vs Astronaut – Musculoskeletal Injuries, Nutrition, Hydration, Waste
  • Physiology of Return to Gravity
  • Historical Medical Events
  • Medical Preparedness – Biomedical Team, Crew Training, Onboard Equipment
  • Landing Support
  • Future Space Medicine – Altered gravity, isolation, hostile environments, radiation, and distance from Earth
Mission Planning
  • Skylab 4 Case Study – Early Lessons Learned for Mission Planning
  • Elements of Mission Planning
  • Team Dynamics – Systems, Priorities, Organizations, Countries
  • Mission Planning Evolution from Mercury through ISS
  • Mission Planning and Project Management
    • Short and Long Duration Missions
    • Managing Rules, Limitations and Constraints
    • Plan Development Cycle
    • US vs Russian Approaches to Planning
  • A Day in the Life of ISS
  • Mission Planning Lessons Learned
  • The Future of Mission Planning
Mission Safety
  • The Columbia Accident - Case Study and Lessons Learned
  • Spaceflight Safety
  • Defining Safety and Risk – Causes of Accidents
  • Learning from Human Spaceflight Accidents
  • Responses to Perceived Risk – Continuous Risk Management
    • Engineering Changes
    • Revised Regulations or Rules
    • Improving Human Behavior – Crew Resource Management
    • Improving Organizational Structure
  • Risk Analysis – Likelihood vs Consequences Risk Matrix
  • Hazard Analysis and Control
  • Where is Human Spaceflight Now?
  • Safety Recommendations for Future Spaceflight Operations
Astronaut Operations
  • A Brief History of Astronauts from the Mercury 7 to the Present
  • Spaceflight Training and Facilities – Short vs Long Duration Missions
  • Dynamic Flight – Launch, Rendezvous and Entry
  • Living and Working in Space – Arrival, Operations, Habitability, Crew Systems, Food
  • On-Orbit Operations and Lessons Learned
    • Installation, Maintenance and Repair
    • Onboard Equipment and Tools
    • Inventory and Stowage
    • Alarms and Emergencies
    • Maintaining Mental and Physical Health
    • Crew Efficiency
  • Lessons Learned for Future Missions
Course Delivery and Materials
  • The course lectures will be delivered via Zoom. You can test your connection here:
  • Access to the Zoom classroom will be provided to registrants near to the course start date.
  • All sessions will be available on-demand within 1-2 days of the lecture. Once available, you can stream the replay video anytime, 24/7.
  • Includes an eBook copy of the instructors’ textbook, Human Spaceflight Operations: Lessons Learned from 60 Years in Space (AIAA, 2021).
  • All slides will be available for download after each lecture. No part of these materials may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted, unless for course participants. All rights reserved.
Lead Instructor: Dr. Gregory E. Chamitoff is the William Keeler '49 Professor of Practice in Aerospace Engineering, and Director of the AeroSpace Technology Research & Operations (ASTRO) Laboratory at Texas A&M University. His research includes space robotics, autonomous systems, and the development of collaborative VR simulation environments for space system engineering and mission design. Originally from Montreal, Canada, he served as a NASA Astronaut for 15 years, including Shuttle Missions STS-124, 126, 134 and Space Station long duration missions Expedition 17 and 18. He lived and worked in Space for almost 200 days as a Flight Engineer, Science Officer, and Mission Specialist. His last mission was on the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, during which he performed two spacewalks, including the last of the Shuttle era, which also completed the assembly of the International Space Station. In Mission Control, Chamitoff served as a flight controller and later as Lead CAPCOM in support of ongoing missions. Chamitoff earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Cal Poly, M.S. in Aeronautics from Caltech, and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT. He also holds a minor and a Master’s in Planetary (Space) Science. A recipient of two NASA Spaceflight Medals and the NASA Exceptional and Distinguished Service Medals, he was inducted into the California Space Authority Astronaut Hall of Fame. Dr. Chamitoff serves as the Board Chair for the Texas Space Grant Consortium and is an AIAA Associate Fellow. (Human Spaceflight Operations, Astronaut Operations)

Other Lecturers: To Be Announced


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