Space exploration is truly fascinating. From Sputnik to the Apollo, followed by the assembly and exploitation of the International Space Station and the successful operation of the Hubble Space Telescope and other space observatories, we are uncovering many mysteries of our universe. We also made huge progress learning how to work and be productive in outer space!
This course builds on university level physics and mechanics to introduce and illustrate orbital dynamics as they are applied in the design of space missions. You will learn from the experiences of Claude Nicollier, one of the first ESA astronauts, specifically through his role in the maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope on two occasions.
The course focuses on conceptual understanding of space mechanics, maneuvers, propulsion and control systems used in all spacecraft. You will gain knowledge of the challenges related to the use of the space environment as a scientific and utilitarian platform.
Unit 0 - Introduction to the Course
Motivation behind space exploration and utilization
The space pioneers, and brief history of human space exploration
The main space agencies in the world
Space utilization and exploration
Unit 1 - Introduction to Space Environment
Review of Laws of Mechanics
Introduction to the space environment including the transition from the atmosphere to space, microgravity, the electrical and thermal environments, orbital lifetime, space debris and asteroids/comets collision threats
Unit 2 – Introduction to Orbital Mechanics (I and II)
Orbital Mechanics I - dynamics of spaceflight; concept of gravitational well; orbital motion; Kepler’s Laws; the case of circular orbits
Orbital Mechanics II - elliptical orbits; reference frames; orbital maneuvers; perturbations of orbital motion; peculiar orbits
Unit 3 - Orbital Mechanics Part III
Rendezvous in Low Earth Orbit (LEO); relative motion of the chaser vs. the target; the case of the Space Shuttle and ESA’s Automatic Transfer Vehicle (ATV)
Unit 4 - Orbital Mechanics Part IV
Interplanetary trajectories; Gravity Assist or Slingshot principle
Propulsion in space - law of propulsion; concept of specific impulse; types of thrusters; electric propulsion; ascent into space; and re-entry
Unit 5 - Introduction to Space Systems and Space Tethers
Attitude measurement and control; attitude change; electrical power generation and distribution (overview); thermal balance (overview)
Space tethers as an alternate method to generate electrical power on orbit; Dynamic applications of Space Tethers, Shuttle-based Tether missions
Reliability; systems redundancy; risk management; safety design for space systems; human rating concept
Unit 6 – The Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS)
Space Shuttle - concept; design; operations; Challenger and Columbia accidents
ISS; Soyuz and Progress; Logistic supply to ISS with ATV, HTV, and commercial vehicles
Unit 7 – Special Subjects on Human Spaceflight, and Future of Space Exploration
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) and space suits, space robotics
Astronaut training • Commercial space – The suborbital segment
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These arefree online courses from universities around the world (eg. StanfordHarvardMIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
How do I register?
To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you. They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.