SPC 5013 Space Systems Astrodynamics 

Instructor Name: Alfred Menendez

Email: canvas course email 

Phone: 321-795-9021


This course will present the basics of astrodynamics including: two body orbital problems, orbital transfers, lunar trajectories and patched conic and gravity assist interplanetary trajectories. 

The primary objective of this course is for the student to gain an understanding of the fundamental principles of astrodynamics through solving real world problems. The student will develop a set of astrodynamics tools by programming text book problems.




 Posted in the course website


Informal prerequisites for this course are SPC 5001 Intro to Space Systems 
2) college level vector mathematics, and 3) access to a computer AND - VERY IMPORTANT - be able to program astrodynamics problems in EXCEL or other language!   IF YOU ARE NOT experienced in EXCEL or a math language like matlab or similar and in vector math you will have difficulty in this course!


Homework problems will be assigned weekly and must turned in via Canvas. The homework will be used to practice the concepts learned in class. Homework problems are to be completed by each student. Timely submission of problems is required. Credit will be taken away for UNEXCUSED late homework. Late homework will be deducted as follows:

after exact time it is due  - 20%

one week and one minute from when it is due - 50%

three weeks late - 100%

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

Your grade in this course will be the instructor's evaluation. If you are on travel or otherwise can't submit homework on time let the instructor know ahead of time. Late homework gets 20% subtracted automatically up to 100% after three weeks. This is to encourage you to do the problems, you need to do the homework to pass the course. The student should start the homework early, the night of class or night after, that way you can ask questions early in via email.  Instructor will not answer questions the day the hw is due.

The emphasis in a graduate course of study is self-directed research and motivation.  This is a graduate level course and mature effort is required.

The proportional contribution of each item will be:

Item Percentage of Grade
Homework 34%
Midterm 33%
Final 33%


Lectures are recorded and made available via Canvas in the Panopto folder to be watched at student's convenience.  It is REQUIRED to watch and to watch the lecture weekly to maintain the schedule.

Exams - online

Location - online

Chat - no chat.   

Schedule - current lecture announcement will be made on date to be determined.  Might be Monday thru Wed.  Most likely Thursday. 

E-mail: use the Canvas course website for ALL course communications.  

Office Phone Not available by phone
Home Phone 321-795-9021 cell phone
Phone Hours 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm 
Office Hours By Appointment

Class               Roadmap

1       Chap 1: Introduction, review, definitions, position, velocity, acceleration.

         Chap 2: Two-Body Problem: Equations of motion 
         Chap 2: Energy, Angular Momentum, Circular Orbits, Elliptic Orbits,  Parabollic orbits, Hyperbolic Orbits 
2       Chap 2: Perifocal Frame; Lagrange coefficients 
         Chap 3: Kepler’s Equations, Orbital Position as function of time, 
3       Chap 3: Circular and elliptic orbits
          Parabolic and Hyperbolic trajectories, 
4       Chap 3: Classical Orbit Parameters 
         Chap 5: Gibb’s Method for Orbit Determination

5       Chap 5: Lambert’s Problem

         Chap 6: Hohmann transfers, Bi-Elliptic Transfers, Phasing Maneuvers

             Midterm exam - posted as homework

6       Chap 6: Non-Hohmann Transfers, Inclination Changes, Rendezvous
7       Chap 7: Interplanetary Traj, Method of Patched Conics
8       Chap 7: Planetary Flybys,  

9     Lunar Trajectories

10    Chap 2: Restricted Three-Body Problem

11   Final Exam

Attendance also counts for your grade.  Not watching lectures will result in a failing grade.

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

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.

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.


General FIT Policy statements

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 Fanak Baarmand, Title IX Coordinator at 321-674-8885 or fbaarman@fit.edu.


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):  Telephone: 321-674-8285 / Email: accessibilityresources@fit.edu Website: https://www.fit.edu/accessibility-resources


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.  


Covid-19 University Policy: 

As per Florida Tech’s “Return to Learn Fall 2020” policy, the “use of face coverings [is] mandatory for students.” By attending this class in person students agree to follow all health guidelines listed in that document, as well as practicing social distancing in the classroom itself.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and seek medical attention. Students failing to follow masking and social distancing will not be allowed to remain in class. For more information, please visit the Florid Tech Safe website at https://www.fit.edu/coronavirus.

Eight Rules Of Academic Integrity

  1. Know your rights—Do not let other students in your class diminish the value of your achievement by taking unfair advantage. Report any academic dishonesty you see.
  2. Acknowledge your sources—Whenever you use words or ideas that are not your own when writing a paper, use quotation marks where appropriate and cite your source in a footnote, backing it up at the end with a list of sources consulted. See section on plagiarism.
  3. Protect your work—In examinations, do not allow your neighbors to see what you have written; you are the only one who should receive credit for what you know.
  4. Avoid suspicion—Do not put yourself in a position where you can be suspected of having copied another person’s work, or having used unauthorized notes in an examination. Even the appearance of dishonesty may undermine your instructor’s confidence in your work.
  5. Do your own work—The purpose of assignments is to develop your skills and measure your progress. Letting someone else do your work defeats the purpose of your education and may lead to serious charges against you.
  6. Never falsify a record or permit another person to do so—Academic records are regularly audited and students whose grades have been altered put their entire transcript at risk.
  7. Never fabricate data, citations or experimental results—Many professional careers have ended in disgrace, even years after the fabrication first took place.
  8. Always tell the truth when discussing your work with your instructor—Any attempt to deceive may destroy the relationship of teacher and student.

For more information on academic dishonesty, please the policy on plagiarism. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously by the university and is not condoned by any member of the university. Examples of academic dishonesty include (but are not limited to):

Academic Cheating

  1. Intentionally giving or receiving help on written assignments, examinations or any work without prior permission of the instructor.
  2. Looking at another’s test paper or other material (i.e., texts, notes or papers) with intent to gain or give unfair academic advantage, without permission of the instructor.
  3. Walking or signaling to a person while taking a quiz or examination with intent to gain or give unfair academic advantage, without permission of the instructor.
  4. Collaborating with another person in preparing written work with the intent to give or gain unfair academic advantage, without prior permission of the instructor.
  5. Substituting for another person or permitting another person to substitute for oneself during an examination.
  6. Turning in a paper or other work that has been previously written for another class or for another purpose, without prior permission from the instructor.
  7. Assisting others in act of academic dishonesty through the use of course material, including graded exams, quizzes, homework answers, test banks, graded assignment materials, computer code, project materials, research papers, and/or other items.

Digital/Electronic Cheating

  1. Engaging in computer fraud, trespass, theft, embezzlement, changing of information or invasion of privacy.
  2. Tampering with digital or electronic files or information belonging to another.
  3. Digitally/electronically examining, modifying or copying programs or data other than one's own, without prior authorization.
  4. Using digital/electronic information in violation of copyright agreements.
  5. Attempting to degrade computer hardware or software performance or to circumvent its security.
  6. Depriving or attempting to deprive other users of resources or access to a computer.
  7. Uploading/sharing any material such as listed above through any electronic format may be seen as not only an academic dishonesty issue but also a copyright violation.
  8. Using an electronic device to retrieve or capture data or information in the completion of academic work, without prior permission of the instructor.


  1. Handing in as one’s own a paper or assignment, a document purchased from a term paper service or any other source.
  2. Copying another’s paper or work and handing it in as one’s own.
  3. Taking a paper or work from a file not one’s own and handing it in as one’s own.
  4. Intentionally footnoting an incorrect source.
  5. Appropriating passages or ideas from another and using them as one’s own without proper documentation.
  6. Quoting a written source on an exam, paper or homework without citation when it is requested by the instructor to present one’s own work.

Procedures For Handling Suspected Violations (Undergraduate)

When a suspected breach of academic regulations involves cheating or plagiarism, the following sequence of events will be initiated:

  1. The instructor and the academic unit head responsible for the course will meet to decide whether charges should be made or not.
  2. The student will be notified promptly in writing of the charges, given an opportunity to meet with the instructor and academic unit head (accompanied by the faculty advisor if the student wishes) and/or to submit a written statement explaining or refuting the charges.
  3. Based on the meeting with the student and/or review of the student’s written statement, the instructor and academic unit head will make a preliminary decision regarding the student’s guilt or innocence.
  4. In the case of a finding or as a result of (2)(b) above, it will be necessary to determine whether this case is a first instance of cheating/plagiarism. This determination is to be made by the Dean of Students, based on the file of documented previous incidents.
  5. If it is established that no previous case is on file for this student, the student will be given the option of either accepting the charges or having the case referred to the Dean of Students for a formal disciplinary conference. The maximum penalty that may be imposed on the student in the absence of a formal disciplinary conference is failure in the course in question and denial of the right to withdraw from the course or have the grade replaced for any reason (e.g., the forgiveness policy or a change of major). If the instructor and academic unit head both feel that a stronger penalty is called for, they also have the right to refer the case to the Office of the Dean of Students.

If the charges are accepted by all parties concerned without benefit of a disciplinary conference, the charges will not be made a part of the registrar’s official student file, but a record of the incident will be forwarded to the Office of the Dean of Students and kept on file in accordance with the University Code of Conduct. This record will include both a description of the incident and a statement signed by the student waiving his right to a formal disciplinary conference and accepting the penalty imposed. It is not necessary that the student formally acknowledge his agreement with all aspects of the description of the incident. (In the absence of this statement, the case must be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students for a disciplinary conference.) The facts pertaining to the incident, including the name of the student, will not be made public, but will be made known to: faculty members in the student’s academic unit; the academic unit offering the course; and other faculty and university officials, as required, to guard against future incidents of cheating and plagiarism.

Procedures For Handling Suspected Violations (Graduate)

Suspected breaches of academic regulations involving cheating, plagiarism or academic misconduct at the graduate level will be handled as outlined in departmental handbooks and online in graduate policies. Students should contact their college/school dean or department head for complete information.