Senior Design Projects

Senior students perform a team-based spacecraft design, requiring application of the education and skills developed in the aerospace curriculum. The students perform a feasibility study for a specified mission goal, subject to certain constraints. AAE 450, ‘Spacecraft Design’,  culminates with a detailed written report of  about thousand pages and a presentation. The entire class works as a single team to achieve this goal. They elect a Project Manager and an Assistant Project Manager and organize into specialized groups to study aerodynamics, attitude control, communications, power, human factors, propulsion, structures, thermal control and trajectory design.

At the end of the semester the students deliver a formal presentation of their results. Accompanying this report, is an an appendix, which provides detailed analyses of methods and trades studies. The quality of the work in the past design projects is consistent with the high standards of the aerospace industry. The students who participated in this study have demonstrated that they have mastered the fundamentals of astronautics, have learned to work efficiently as a team, and have discovered innovative ways to achieve the goals of this project. This version of the course was first offered by Prof. Longuski in Spring 2001. The links of the all the previous Senior Design Projects along with movies of the overview of mission are included below.

+ AAE 450 Spring 2013 Project Prometheus:

Examined the feasibility human mission to Phobos that prepares a Martian cave for a permanent human colony on Mars

+ AAE 450 Spring 2012 Project Olympus:

Examined the feasibility of sending humans on a one-way mission to Mars!

+ AAE 450 Spring 2011 Project Vision:

Examined the feasibility of sending a crew of 6 people to the dwarf planet and largest asteroid, Ceres.  The web site includes a short animation of the mission.  To see the movie go to Home and click on Movies at:

+ AAE 450 Spring 2010 Project KRONOS:

Considered delivering an airship, a lake lander, and an orbiter to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.  Web site includes a 6-minute movie: click on “Project Kronos Movie.”

+ AAE 450 Spring 2009 Project Xpedition:

Used the Google X PRIZE specifications to consider not only the absolute minimum cost (in dollars) for landing a very small rover on the Moon, but also the  relative minimum cost (in dollars per kilogram) to determine the best  “bang for the buck”  of a moderate sized lunar rover.

+ AAE 450 Spring 2008 Project Bellerophon:

Sought the most economical method to launch very small payloads (200 grams to 5 kilograms) into low-Earth orbit.

+ AAE 450 Spring 2007 Project Aquarius:

Used Dr. Damon Landau’s thesis concept to use Martian water for rocket propellant.

+ AAE 450 Spring 2006 Project Infinity:

Addressed the problem of sending humans Back to the Moon.

+ AAE 450 Spring 2005 Project Legend:

Presented a detailed architecture for sending Humans to Mars.

+ AAE 450 Spring 2004 Project HOMER:

Considered an “ice-breaker” mission performed prior to a human landing on Mars.

+ AAE 450 Spring 2003  Project MERIT:

Examined the feasibility of the Mars Cycler concept (originated by Dr. Buzz Aldrin) to  construct a human transportation system between Earth and Mars.

+ AAE 450 Spring 2002 Project SEABASS:

Considered placing a submarine in the subsurface ocean of Europa to search for signs of extraterrestrial life.

+ AAE 450 Spring 2001 Project PERFORM:

Incorporated Zubrin’s  in-situ propellant production concept along with free return using Venus, aerobraking and aerocapture, nuclear thermal rockets, artificial gravity, and zero-altitude abort for a low-cost,  low-risk human mission to Mars.

(Note: Unfortunately Project PERFORM’s report is broken into small pieces, making it inconvenient to read.  Fortunately the other websites do not have this defect.)