Space Systems – Intermediate Design

Course Length:



This five-day multi-disciplinary course provides a complete summary of the technologies needed to understand and develop spacecraft systems and instrumentation. The course presents a systems engineering approach for understanding the design and testing of spacecraft systems. The course highlights the underlying scientific and engineering foundations needed to develop space systems, as well as current practices. Case studies are used to pinpoint the key issues and trade-offs in modern design, and to illustrate the lessons learned from past successes and failures.

This course provides a strong technical base for leadership in systems engineering or the management of space systems. Technical specialists will find the broad perspective and knowledge useful in communicating with other space system specialists in analyzing design options and trade-offs.

The emphasis will be on how today’s technology is incorporated into the planning, designing, fabrication, integration, and testing of modern space systems. Each participant will receive a complete set of notes and the award-winning textbook, Fundamentals of Space Systems, 2nd Edition 2005. The textbook and course notes provide an authoritative reference that focuses on proven techniques and guidelines for understanding, designing, and managing modern space systems.

This course is recommended for engineers, scientists, or managers who wish to broaden their perspectives and capabilities.

Course Outline:

  1. Space Systems Engineering. Fundamentals of systems engineering. System development process. Engineering reviews. Management of space systems.
  2. Orbital Mechanics. Fundamentals of dynamics. Reference frames. Time. Two-body central force motion. Two-body problem. Trajectory perturbations. Orbit determination. Interplanetary missions and patched conics.
  3. Spacecraft Propulsion/Rocket Propulsion. Force-free rocket motion. Rocket motion with gravity. Launch flight mechanics. Transfer trajectories.
  4. Flight Mechanics and Launch Systems. Hohman transfer orbits. Reaching a target orbit. Solid and liquid propellant systems. Other propulsion systems. Selected launch systems.
  5. Spacecraft Attitude Determination. Attitude sensors and kinematics. Attitude determination systems. Attitude estimation and system identification. Attitude error specification and analysis. Mission experiences.
  6. Spacecraft Attitude Control. Rotational dynamics and environmental disturbance torques. Attitude actuators. Passive and active attitude control methods. Attitude controllers and stability. Mission experiences.
  7. Configuration and Structural Design. Structural design requirements and interfaces. Requirements for launch, staging, spin stabilization stages. Acoustics, acceleration, transients and shock. Designing and testing. Stress-strain analysis. Margins of safety. Finite Element Analysis. Structural dynamics. Testing.
  8. Space Power Systems. Energy storage, distribution, and control. Environmental effects on solar cells. Orbital considerations. Energy converters. Solar cells and solar arrays. Batteries and energy storage. Characteristics of different batteries. Designing the power system to fit the mission.
  9. Space Thermal Control. Radiation and thermal fundamentals. Heat transfer and energy balance. Choice of thermal materials. The thermal design and testing process.


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


  • Dr. Vincent L. Pisacane was the Robert A. Heinlein Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the United States Naval Academy where he taught courses in space exploration and its physiological effects, space communications, astrodynamics, space environment, space communication, space power systems, and the design of spacecraft and space instruments. He was previously at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory where he was the Head of the Space Department, Director of the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology in Medicine, and Assistant Director for Research and Exploratory Development. He concurrently held a joint academic appointment in biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has been the principal investigator on several NASA funded grants on space radiation, orbital debris, and the human thermoregulatory system. He is a fellow of the AIAA. He currently teaches graduate courses in space systems engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. In addition he has taught short courses on these topics. He has authored over a hundred papers on space systems and bioastronautics.

  • Dr. Mark E. Pittelkau is president of Aerospace Control Systems Engineering and Research . He was previously with the Applied Physics Laboratory, Orbital Sciences Corporation, CTA Space Systems (now Orbital), and Swales Aerospace. His early career at the Naval Surface Warfare Center involved target tracking, gun pointing control, and gun system calibration, and he has recently worked in target track fusion. His experience in satellite systems covers all phases of design and operation, including conceptual design, implementation, and testing of attitude control systems, attitude and orbit determination, and attitude sensor alignment and calibration, control-structure interaction analysis, stability and jitter analysis, and post-launch support. His current interests are precision attitude determination, attitude sensor calibration, orbit determination, and formation flying. Dr. Pittelkau earned the Bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering at Tennessee Technological University and the Master’s degree in EE at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

  • Jay Jenkins is a power system engineer at JHU/APL with 15 years of experience in design and analysis of aerospace power systems with an emphasis on battery and solar array technology.

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