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Space Systems & Space Subsystems - Fundamentals course

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Technical Training Short On Site Course Quote

This course in space systems and space subsystems is for technical and management personnel who wish to gain an understanding of the important technical concepts in the development of space instrumentation, subsystems, and systems. The goal is to assist students to achieve their professional potential by endowing them with an understanding of the subsystems and supporting disciplines important to developing space instrumentation, space subsystems, and space systems. It designed for participants who expect to plan, design, build, integrate, test, launch, operate or manage subsystems, space systems, launch vehicles, spacecraft, payloads, or ground systems. The objective is to expose each participant to the fundamentals of each subsystem and their inter-relations, to not necessarily make each student a systems engineer, but to give aerospace engineers and managers a technically based space systems perspective. The fundamental concepts are introduced and illustrated by state-of-the-art examples. This course differs from the typical space systems course in that the technical aspects of each important subsystem are addressed. View Course Sampler .


    Dr. Vincent L. Pisacane is a Fellow of the AIAA, has been an Assistant Director for Research and Exploratory Development and Head of the Space Department at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), the inaugural Robert A. Heinlein Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the United States Navy Academy, and a lecturer in the graduate engineering program at Johns Hopkins University. He has taught undergraduate and graduate classes in attitude determination and control, classical mechanics, guidance and control, launch systems, space communications, space environment, space physiology, space power systems, space propulsion, and space systems engineering. Dr Pisacane is the editor and contributing author of the textbook Fundamentals of Space Systems published by Oxford Press (2005), author of the textbook The Space Environment and Its Effects on Space Systems published by the AIAA (2008), and contributing author to the International Space Handbook, in publication. He has been the principal investigator on NASA research grants, has served on national and international panels and committees, has over 100 publications, and has over 40 years experience in space research and the development of spacecraft instrumentation, subsystems, and systems. Dr Pisacane has held a post- doc in electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins, received a PhD in applied mechanics and physics and a master's degree in applied mechanics and mathematics from Michigan State, received a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University, and has undertaken graduate studies in aerospace engineering, as part of his PhD program and at Princeton University.

    Contact this instructor (please mention course name in the subject line)

Who Should Attend:

Scientists, engineers, and managers involved in the management, planning, design, fabrication, integration, test, or operation of space instruments, space subsystems, and spacecraft. The course will provide an understanding of the space subsystems and disciplines necessary to develop a space instrument and spacecraft and the systems engineering approach to integrate these for a successful mission.

What you will learn:

  • Basics of systems engineering
  • Fundamentals necessary to become a systems engineer
  • Managing and minimizing risks in space systems
  • Challenges of developing a space system or complex space instrument
  • Detailed technical overview of the major subsystems of a spacecraft

Course Outline:

  1. OVERVIEW OF SELECTED SYSTEMS Recent spacecraft missions are discussed to provide an overall perspective of some challenging missions. Cassini-Huygens. Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous. Space Navigation Systems (Transit, Tsikada/Parus, GPS, Galileo, GLONASS).

  2. RELIABILITY Effects of Space Environment, Spacecraft Anomaly Databases, Launch System Reliability, Spacecraft Reliability

  3. SPACE SYSTEMS ENGINEERING. Systems Engineering principles, Space System Development Life Cycle, Engineering Reviews, Space System Testing, Space Systems Management (WBS, scheduling, cost estimating)

  4. RISK MANAGEMENT Hazard Analyses (Fault tree, Event Tree, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, Failure Modes, Effects, and Criticality Analysis), Reliability Analyses (Probabilities, Weibull Distribution, Space Reliability), Testing to Enhance Reliability, Readiness Assessments, Techniques for Enhancing Reliability (Derating, Fault Tolerance), Reliability and Quality Assurance

  5. TIME Celestial Motion, Calendars, Time Systems (Definition of the Second, International Atomic Time, Sidereal Times, Universal Times, Coordinated Universal Time, Dynamical Timesm, Coordinate Times, Relationships between Time Systems), Reference Systems (International Celestial Reference Systems (ICRS),Geocentric Celestial Reference Systems (GCRS), International Terrestrial Reference System (ITRS),Transformation between GCRS and ITRS Reference Systems)

  6. ASTRODYNAMICS. Equations of Motion, Conic Sections, Reference Systems, Classical Orbital Elements, High-order Gravitational Fields, Trajectory Perturbations, Orbit Determination, Lagrange Libration Points Gravitational Assist, Synodic Periods, Gravitational Assist, Patched Conics

  7. SPACECRAFT PROPULSION, FLIGHT MECHANICS, AND LAUNCH SYSTEMS. Rocket Propulsion, Force-free Rocket Motion, Launch Flight Mechanics, Propulsion System Introduction, Cold Gas Systems, Solid Propulsion Systems, Liquid Propulsion Systems, Hybrid Propulsion Systems, Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Systems, Electrical Propulsion Systems, Solar Sailing, Launch Vehicles, Transfer Trajectories

  8. SPACECRAFT ATTITUDE DETERMINATION. Attitude Kinematics (Direction Cosines, Euler Angles, Quaternions, Gimbal Lock, Attitude Determination), Attitude Sensors (Sun Sensors, Magnetometers, Horizon Sensors, Star Sensors, GPS Attitude, Typical Sensor Configurations), Rate Sensors (Mechanical Gyroscopes,Optical Gyroscopes, Resonator Gyroscopes, MEMS Gyroscopes, Inertial Measurement Units)

  9. SPACECRAFT ATTITUDE CONTROL. Equations of Motion, Environmental Torques, Feedback Control, Solution of Ordinary Differential Equations, Control Example, Actuators, Libration and Nutation Dampers, Attitude Control Systems

  10. SPACE POWER SYSTEMS. Nuclear Reactors, Radioisotope Generators, Fuel Cells, Solar Thermal Dynamic, Auxiliary Power Units, Battery Principles, Primary Batteries, Secondary Batteries, Solar-Orbital Geometry, Solar Cell Basics, Solar Arrays, Power System Control, Design Principles, Sample Power System Configurations

  11. SPACE COMMUNICATIONS. Radio Spectrum, Antennas, Signal to Noise Ratio, Link Analysis, Pulse Code Modulation, Digital Communications, Multiple Access, Coding Techniques

  12. SPACE THERMAL CONTROL. Spacecraft Thermal Environment, Heat Convection, Heat Conduction, Heat Radiation, Solution Methods, Spacecraft Thermal Control Components, Spacecraft Thermal Design, Thermal Tests, Thermal Analyses Examples, Steady-State Thermal Analyses, Sample Thermal Control Systems

  13. SPACE STRUCTURES. Design Process, Mass Estimates, Structural Configurations, Launch Vehicle Environments. Materials, Structural Analyses


This course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses. If you are interested in attending this or another course as open enrollment, please contact us at (410) 956-8805 or at and indicate the course name and number of students who wish to participate. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a lead time of 3-5 months. Group courses can be presented at your facility at any time. For on-site pricing, request an on-site quote. You may also call us at (410) 956-8805 or email us at