AAE 49000: Space Flight Project Implementation


Format: 3 class meetings per week, lecture and workshop

Credits: 3

Contact hours: 3

Instructor: Professor Spencer

Text: Online reference: “Basics of Space Flight,” Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/basics/index.php

Status: Elective, Aerospace Design

Offered: Spring, Fall


Course Description:  Space Flight Project Implementation will allow students to gain hands-on experience in the design, integration, testing, and operation of an Earth-orbiting or deep space flight project.  In an informal lecture and workshop format, the course will provide the "big picture" of flight project implementation, and will also dive into the details of spacecraft hardware and software.  Development and testing of the mission operations and ground data system will be included.

Pre-requisite: This course is open to undergraduates at the sophomore-level and higher, as well as graduate students.  There are no fixed prerequisites within the AAE curriculum, and the course may be of interest to non-AAE majors.

Co-requisite: None

Assessment Method:  Each student will have a specific role on the project. Roles include project manager, system engineer, subsystem engineer (structures, power, thermal, telecom, flight software, command & data handling, attitude determination & control, propulsion, instruments), mission operations engineer, ground support equipment engineer, and tracking station engineer.  At the beginning of the semester, the instructor will meet with each of the sub-teams to establish the list of tasks and deliverables for the semester and the associated task schedule. Regular status updates will be provided by each sub-team during the course of the semester.  Each student will provide mid-term and final progress reports, detailing their progress on the assigned deliverables.


Course Objectives:  Specific topics addressed in the course will include:

  • Mission objectives and success criteria
  • Project organization and scheduling
  • Concept of operations, mission sequence of events
  • Requirements flow down and validation approach
  • Spacecraft integration and testing approach
  • Test documentation and problem reporting
  • Component-, subsystem-, and system-level functional testing
  • Flight software validation
  • Ground data system operability
  • Tracking station operation
  • Ground support equipment


Student Learning Outcomes:  On completing this course the student shall be able to: 

  1. Define and flow down requirements from the mission objectives to system- and subsystem-levels
  2. Understand and implement the design process for aerospace systems
  3. Solve problems as part of a team
  4. Conduct open-ended tasks associated with design, integration, testing and operation of space flight missions
  5. Demonstrate design viability through modeling, simulation and testing
  6. Organize tasks and establish work schedules
  7. Give oral presentations and write technical reports required of aerospace engineers


Revision History:

Prepared by: David A. Spencer, January 3, 2017