Spacecraft Design and Systems Engineering


This  course presents an overview of factors that affect spacecraft design and operation. It begins with an historical review of unmanned and manned spacecraft, including current designs and future concepts. All the design drivers, including launch and on-orbit environments and their affect on the spacecraft design, are covered. Orbital mechanics is presented in a manner that provides an easy understanding of underlying principles as well as applications, such as maneuvering, transfers, rendezvous, atmospheric entry, and interplanetary transfers. Considerable time is spent defining the systems engineering aspects of spacecraft design, including the spacecraft bus components and the relationship to ground control. Design considerations, such as structures and mechanisms, attitude sensing and control, thermal effects and life support, propulsion systems, power generation, telecommunications, and command and data handling are detailed. Practical aspects, such as fabrication, cost estimation, and testing, are discussed. The course concludes with lessons learned from spacecraft failures.

Key Topics:

  • History
  • Design drivers
  • Orbital mechanics and trajectories
  • Systems engineering
  • Design considerations
  • Estimation, testing, and failure prevention

Who Should Attend:

This course is for specialists in engineer, sciences, or instrument planning, who need a background of the "big picture" of spacecraft design and how the pieces fit together. Managers who want to understand the many aspects of spacecraft design that affect their work, tasks, and scheduling will also benefit.

Course Information:

Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Level: Fundamentals/Intermediate

Course scheduling available in the following formats:

  • Course at Conference
  • Onsite Course
  • Stand-alone/Public Course

Course Length: 2-4 days
AIAA CEU's available: yes

  • Spacecraft History
  • Spacecraft Design Drivers
  • Launch Environment
  • Space Environment
  • Orbital Mechanics
  • Orbital Maneuvers and Rendezvous
  • Entry Environment
  • Systems Engineering
  • Structures and Mechanisms
  • Structural Analysis
  • Attitude Dynamics
  • Attitude Sensing
  • Attitude Control
  • Thermal Control
  • Thermal Analysis and Test
  • Environmental Control & Life Support Systems
  • Propulsion
  • Power
  • Telecommunications
  • Command & Data Handling
  • Fabrication and Test
  • Failures and Lessons Learned
  • Cost Estimation

Spacecraft Design and Systems Engineering

Course Outline:

I. Spacecraft History

II. Spacecraft Design Drivers

III. Launch Environment

IV. Space Environment

V. Orbital Mechanics

VI. Orbital Maneuvers and Rendezvous

VII. Entry Environment

VIII. Systems Engineering

IX. Structures and Mechanisms

X. Structural Analysis

XI. Attitude Dynamics

XII. Attitude Sensing

XIII. Attitude Control

XIV. Thermal Control

XV. Thermal Analysis and Test

XVI. Environmental Control & Life Support Systems

XVII. Propulsion

XVIII. Power

XIX. Telecommunications

XX. Command & Data Handling

XXI. Fabrication and Test

XXII. Failures and Lessons Learned

XXIII. Cost Estimation


Course Materials:

Since course notes will not be distributed onsite, AIAA and your course instructor are highly recommending that you bring your computer with the course notes already downloaded to the course.

Once you have registered for the course, these course notes are available about two weeks prior to the course event, and are available to you in perpetuity.



Don Edberg

Don Edberg is Professor of Aerospace Engineering at California State Polytechnic University Pomona, and Boeing Technical Fellow.  He has worked at JPL, General Dynamics, AeroVironment, and McDonnell Douglas, and as a consultant over the past 25+ years.  Dr. Edberg has 10 patents, including one flight-tested on the STS-73 shuttle


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