Engineering Professional Education

Space Flight Operations


Spring 2018

Days/Time: TTh / 9:00-10:15 am
Credit Hours: 3

Learning Objective:
Specific topics addressed in the course will include: The space environment Planetary atmospheres Space mission architecture, concept of operations, trade studies Requirements definition and flowdown Autonomy, fault protection, and safe mode Flight operations roles and responsibilities Operations risk management, anomaly response, contingency planning Space communications, spacecraft commanding and telemetry Spacecraft technical resources: mass, power, telecommunications, thermal, data volume Human space flight considerations Launch operations, launch vehicle staging Planetary launch periods Evaluation of space operations failures

Space Flight Operations provides students with a technical foundation in space flight operations for human and robotic missions, and launch vehicle operations. The first segment of the course covers mission operations architecture, including concept of operations, trade studies, requirements definition, designing for operability, and the use of automation versus human-in-the-loop systems. The second segment introduces mission operations fundamentals, including mission planning and sequencing, command generation and validation, tracking station operation, spacecraft telemetry, and system fault protection. The third segment covers mission management topics, including flight team organization, risk management, contingency planning, flight team training, and mission operations cost estimation. In the fourth segment, the class will review and discuss failure investigation reports for high-profile mission failures spanning human and robotic missions. Guest lectures will be provided from NASA and industry presenters with experience spanning robotic and human spaceflight.

Topics Covered:
On completing this course the student shall be able to: Understand the implications of the mission architecture and spacecraft design to operability Define mission operations requirements Understand the benefits and limitations of autonomy in mission operations Identify mission risks, establish risk mitigations and contingency plans Evaluate viability of a space mission design based upon technical resource budgets Understand the basics of launch operations Appreciate considerations and challenges of human space flight Understand the causes and consequences of space flight failures, and apply lessons learned

This course is open to seniors and graduate students. There are no fixed prerequisites within the AAE curriculum, and the course may be of interest to non-AAE majors.

Web Content:

Homework assignments (20%) In-class quizzes (40%) Term paper (15%)

Final exam (25%)

Official textbook information is now listed in the Schedule of Classes. NOTE: Textbook information is subject to be changed at any time at the discretion of the faculty member. If you have questions or concerns please contact the academic department.
Tentative: Uhlig, T., Sellmaier, F., Schmidhuber, M., editors, Spacecraft Operations, Springer, 1st Edition, 2015, ISBN 978-3-7091-4848-8. Online reference: ???Basics of Space Flight,??? Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Computer Requirements:

ProEd Minimum Requirements: view

Tuition & Fees: view


Spring 2018
Spring 2020
Spring 2022


David Spencer



701 W Stadium Ave
West Lafayette, IN 47907

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