Space – An Introduction

Course Length:



This three day course serves well as both an introductory course and as a refresher course. It appeals to those new to the field as well as specialists that want a broader look at the fundamentals of contemporary space system design and application. Topics include: (1) an introduction to the fundamentals of space sciences and engineering, including cosmology, the near-Earth and space environments, orbital mechanics and propulsion; (2) descriptions of basic space system applications (communications, remote sensing, navigation), how they have evolved, and some of the fundamental engineering characteristics involved in each; and (3) an introduction to space system and mission design including discussions of spacecraft subsystems, launch systems, ground systems and operations, and the mission design (systems engineering) process. Throughout the course, descriptive examples of notable systems, both historic and current, are used to illuminate each topic. The instruction material places emphasis on identifying the important basic concepts and illuminating their influ¬ence on the design of current and future space missions. The course also stresses the ways in which space systems influence the many aspects of our daily lives.

Who should attend:

The course content and material is relevant for both civilian and military personnel, and would be of interest for those new to the field (including general space enthusiasts) as well as to area specialists including managers, engineers, operators, and even non-technical persons involved in other aspects of space systems development and operation. It covers space-related topics from A to Z allowing the successful completer to “talk the talk” and understand the basics of this diverse field. This course was designed to be the cornerstone for anyone interested in learning the basics about spacecraft and the missions they perform, and as such would be an excellent first course to take before going into any related specialized areas. Because of the fundamental and popular nature of the presentation material, detailed prior technical knowledge is not required.

Course Outline:

  1. History of Spaceflight. Manned Spaceflight and Unmanned Spaceflight.
  2. Space Environment. Cosmology, Solar Radiation, Electromagnetic Radiation, Particle Radiation, Radiation Belts, the Ionosphere, the Atmosphere, Spacecraft Effects, Man in Space
  3. Orbital Mechanics. Orbital elements and properties. Mission driven design principles. Orbit establishment, maintenance and transfer.
  4. Propulsion and Launch Systems. First principles, staging, launch timing, launch pad location, launch vehicle options.
  5. Satellite Communications. Communications theory, antenna theory, power budget, modulation, digital communications and communi¬cation satellites.
  6. Remote Sensing. Remote sensing principles, spatial performance, spectral or radiometric performance, temporal performance and revisit time, and remote sensing satellites.
  7. Satellite Navigation. Position determination using Doppler techniques, pulse ranging and phase difference positioning, and navigation satellites.
  8. Space Systems. Payload and mission specific systems. Instrument types and systems. Spacecraft bus: power, attitude refer¬ence and control, data handling, etc.
  9. Ground Support Systems. Launch, tracking and data collection and handling.
  10. Mission Design. The design process: systems engineering, system life cycle, system acquisition. Payload and mission design.
  11. Pacing Technologies and Future Design Trends. Payload design trends: communication, remote sensing and navigation. System design trends: power, large structures, launch systems. Manned spaceflight.


REGISTRATION:  There is no obligation or payment required to enter the Registration for an actively scheduled course.   We understand that you may need approvals but please register as early as possible or contact us so we know of your interest in this course offering.

SCHEDULING:  If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead-time.   To express your interest in an open enrollment course not on our current schedule, please email us at

For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at


  • Bruce A. Campbell, PhD is an Aerospace Engineering graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and flew carrier-based jet aircraft before earning a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering/Space Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He returned to the Naval Academy in 1985 and helped establish a Space Track of classes there. In the process, he co-authored the text “Introduction to Space Sciences and Spacecraft Applications” which is the basis for this course. Bruce joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in 1989 where he has conducted systems engineering and management for several space projects, including as Project Manager for the TIMED mission. His last position was as Manager of Goddard’s design center, overseeing the concept development of future NASA instruments and missions. During this time he also completed work toward a Doctorate in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the George Washington University.

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