Introduction to Space Systems, SPC5001-IU

Summer Semester 2024

INSTRUCTOR: Jeff Mitchell

Email through CANVAS for all official course correspondence.  phone 321-223-0740   Call outside of work hours in general.  No texting.

CLASS HOURS:  None, online.  I will record it and post it under Panopto Recordings in Canvas for those who can't attend.

Canvas is what we use for these courses.  If you have never used it, I recommend you download the "Canvas Student Guide" at:

TEXT: Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD by Wertz, Everett and Puschell 2011 (Space Technology Library) ISBN 978-1-881883-15-9

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course introduces the beginning graduate student to space systems. This includes systems engineering, space flight history, space environment, astrodynamics, rocket propulsion, launch vehicle selection, space telecommunications, remote sensing, spacecraft configuration, structures, materials, power and thermal systems, launch and space mission operations, spacecraft navigation, guidance, control and space applications.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: The primary objective of this course is to give the student an introductory overview and understanding of the different space systems and how they interact with each other.  The secondary objective is to give the student what it takes to design a space system.  This is done by a gradual writeup of a space system via the assignments.  

INSTRUCTION METHOD: A combination of lecture notes, textbook and discussion of the material will be used. Assignment will be issued, grades will be posted in Canvas with comments.  Two exams will be given.


Personal Computer with mathematics and spreadsheet software would help the student tremendously but is not formally  required.  Able to program arithmetic problems in a spreadshee or other math language is extremely helpful.  This can make or break you in this course! Have your skills and software ready before you start this course!!!  A spreadsheetl is sufficient.

All course material, quizzes (assignments), recorded lectures, exams, will be done using Canvas. 


Lecture     Topic 

  1  Intro Space flight history, Space Mission Engineering 
  2 Intro to the Space Environment 
  3 Orbits and Astrodynamics 
  4 Orbits and Mission Design 
  5 Rocket Propulsion, Vehicle selection 
  6 Spacecraft GN&C Part 1 
  7 Spacecraft GN&C Part 2 
  8 Payloads and Remote Sensing, Structures, Materials, and Mechanisms 
  9 SC Buses and Thermal Control 
  10 Power and Spacecraft Communications
  11 Command & Data Handling 
  12 Reliability Analysis, Risk Assessment, and Launch and Mission Ops 
  13 Human Spaceflight 
  14 Commercial Enterprise in Space


Assignments  will be assigned generally due the following week as identified on the assignment. The assignments are posted as a quiz. It doesn’t matter, if you click on assignment 1 you will go to quiz 1. If you are on travel or otherwise can't be there, let the instructor know ahead of time.    Late assignments gets 20% subtracted, 50%  on second week and 100% after three weeks. This is to encourage you to do the problems, you need to do the assignments to pass the course.   The student should start the assignments early,  that way you can ask questions early via email.  

There is an attendance requirement via watching the recorded lecture.  Missing three or more lectures can result in a grade letter drop. Make sure to write down the attendance words.  Attendance is a requirement for our University's  certification.

The assignments is designed so that you can work to the correct answer.  In numerical problems a few close answers are given and you pick the correct one.  Keep trying.  Eventually you should get the correct answer.

Midterm and final:

The midterm will cover everything discussed in class and the reading assignments. The final will cover everything after the midterm. Obviously, you will have to know the first part of the course in order to pass the final. The midterm and final are open book, and will be on Canvas under Quizzes. The way the Quizzes work is that I post it on Canvas and give you a week to do it.  You can start and stop questions any time, except for multiple choice that are graded when you select the answer.  Some questions are the “Explain how this works” type.  The nice thing is that you type the answer in the block, therefore I don’t have to decipher your handwriting.  For problems involving equations, scan them just like the assignments.  There will be a “choose a file” button on each question, click that and upload.  You can either scan each question and upload it at each question, or you could scan all those problems and upload them once at any of the questions.  There will be a final question to upload a file, like your excel spreadsheet with your equations.

GRADING POLICY: The course grade will be based on the following:

Assignments  34%

Mid-Term Exam 33%

Final Exam 33%

Attendance also counts for your grade as mentioned above.   Attendance is performed by the students recording the attendance words from the lecture in the assignments.   Attendance counts for roughly 11% of the assignments assignment.   So if you do not watch lecture, your assignments starts at a grade of B (89).  

Learning Systems: Recorded lectures, reading of textbook and assignments problems on Canvas.

Grading Policy:


Late assignments will be deducted as follows: 

late – 20%

2nd week late - 50%

3rd  week late – 100%.  


All assignments must be completed and submitted to avoid the grade of "Incomplete". 

In order to avoid misunderstandings about the grade of "I", the following is provided.

  1. The grade of "I" is only to be given for incomplete work because of circumstances beyond the student’s control. It is not intended to give additional time to students simply because they want more time to prepare for exams or complete projects. Also, the "I" grade presumes that the student’s work has been qualitatively satisfactory and there is reasonable expectation that completion of the remaining work will result in a passing grade.

  2. The grade of "I" is not automatic. If a student is nearing the end of the semester and has not completed all course work due to illness, family emergency, or job-related travel, or misses the final exam for the above reasons, the student must make appropriate arrangements with the instructor. If the student does not provide this instructor with early, valid, and verifiable reasons for not completing course requirements in the prescribed time, a grade of "I" could be assigned by the instructor.

The remaining work must be completed within six weeks into the following semester. This means the make-up work is to be scheduled and completed as near as possible to the end of the semester involved.

Academic Honesty Definitions & Procedures:  Located in the student handbook at

Title IX Statement:  The university’s Title IX policy is available at 
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities.  Florida Institute of Technology policy also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
Florida Tech faculty are committed to helping create a safe learning environment for all students that is free from all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. If you, or someone you know, have experienced or is experiencing any of these behaviors, know that help and support are available. 
Florida Tech strongly encourages all members of the community to take action, seek support, and report any incident of sexual harassment or gender discrimination to Grace Gamage, Title IX Coordinator at 321-674-8885 or
Please note that as your professor, I am required to report any incidents to the Title IX Coordinator.  
If you wish to speak to an employee who does not have this reporting responsibility, please contact the Student Counseling Center at 321-674-8050.

Academic Accommodations:  Florida Tech is committed to equal opportunity for persons w/disabilities in the participation of activities operated/sponsored by the university. Therefore, students w/documented disabilities are entitled to reasonable educational accommodations. The Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) supports students by assisting w/accommodations, providing recommended interventions, and engaging in case management services.  It is the student’s responsibility to make a request to OAR before any accommodations can be approved/implemented.  Also, students w/approved accommodations are encouraged to speak w/the course instructor to discuss any arrangements and/or concerns relating to their accommodations for the class.  
Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR):
Phone: 321-674-8285

Recording Disclosure (Privacy Waiver): This course may be recorded for use by students and/or faculty. Enrolled students are subject to having their images and voices recorded during the classroom presentations, remote access learning, online course discussions, and remote office hours/meetings. Course participants should have no expectation of privacy regarding their participation in this class.  Recordings may not be reproduced, shared with those not registered in the courses, or uploaded to other online environments.  All recordings will be deleted at the conclusion of the academic term.  

Attendance Policy: See Florida Tech attendance policy. Attendance is measured.

Special Considerations:

Academic Accommodations: Florida Tech is committed to equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in the participation of activities operated/sponsored by the university. Therefore, students with documented disabilities are entitled to reasonable educational accommodations. The Office of Disability Services (ODS) supports students by assisting with accommodations, providing recommended interventions, and engaging in case management services. It is the student's responsibility to make a request to ODS before any accommodations can be approved/implemented. Also, students with approved accommodations are encouraged to speak with the course instructor to discuss any arrangements and/or concerns relating to their accommodations for the class. Office of Disability Services (ODS): Telephone: 321-674-8285 / /