Spacecraft Power Systems (2 day)

Course Length:



This two-day course provides spacecraft power systems engineers and satellite system architects with a comprehensive approach for the specification and detailed design of the power system. The impacts of the space environment and mission orbital constraints are appraised. Existing power sources and energy storage technologies are studied in depth. Technology readiness of emerging developments in power generation and storage are evaluated. Basic power system architectures and power regulation techniques are presented including power system block diagrams from flight programs. A LEO power system design example using existing design constraints is presented.

What you will learn:

  • Design driving requirements for a space power system.
  • Details regarding environmental considerations in the design of power systems.
  • Orbit geometry calculations for common orbits and illumination profiles.
  • Solar cell technology and environmental susceptibility.
  • Battery technologies, including battery selection and sizing.
  • Power system architecture, selection and regulation options
  • Design Example: Sample power system concept design of a LEO mission.

Course Outline:

Day 1:

      • Introduction to Space Power Systems Design. Power System overview with focus on the origin of design-driving requirements, technical disciplines, and sub-system interactions.
      • Environmental Effects. Definition of the environmental considerations in the design of power systems including radiation, temperature, UV exposure, and insolation.
      • Orbital Considerations. Basic orbit geometries and calculations for common orbits. Consideration of illumination profiles including effects of spacecraft geometries.
      • Power Sources: Solar cell technologies and basic physics of operation including electrical characteristics and environmental susceptibility. Solar panel design, fabrication, and test considerations.

Day 2:

    • Energy Storage: Battery technologies, and flight-readiness of each. Battery selection and sizing characteristics. Battery voltage profiles, charge/discharge characteristics, and charging methods. Special battery handling considerations. Alternative storage technologies include fuel cell technologies, and fly-wheels.
    • Power System Architectures: System architecture and regulation options including direct energy transfer, peak-power tracking, and hybrid architectures. System level interactions and trade-offs.
    • Design Example: Sample power system concept design of a LEO mission including selection and sizing of batteries, solar arrays. Focus on real-life trade-offs impacting cost, schedule, and other spacecraft activities and designs.


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


  • Robert Detwiler has over 40 years of experience in all aspects of Aerospace Power Systems design and development. While at JPL he was a key contributor to a number of successful power system efforts including Voyager, Galileo, Mars Global Surveyor, Cassini and the Mars Exploration Rovers. His experience base includes power system hardware development, power technology development, and management responsibilities for JPL, NASA and non-NASA programs. He is retired from California Institute of Technology, JPL.

    Contact these instructors (please mention course name in the subject line)

Request On-Site Quote