Basics of Space Flight is a tutorial designed primarily as a quick training guide for mission operations people. But teachers, college and high-school students—anyone interested in the concept of interplanetary spaceflight—may find it useful.

This online course offers a broad scope, but limited depth, as a robust framework to accommodate further training or investigation. Many other resources are available for delving into each of the topics related here; indeed, any one of them can involve a lifelong career of specialization. Links to external sites provide further depth to many topics. There are interactive quizzes to let you check your own progress. No records are kept, nor does DIYGURU offer academic credit for this training.


The main objective of the course is to introduce the concept of space system design and engineering. The course will describe the various subsystems involved in the design of a satellite. It will also describe the techniques of systems engineering that are used to obtain a coherent satellite design.



Highlights of space mission organization and engineering. Mission

objectives, science objectives, mission architectures.

Conception and Design of spacecraft

General description of the space environment and survivability, and

spacecraft subsystems including: science instruments,

telecommunications, power management and distribution, command and

data handling, thermal control, propulsion, structures and mechanisms,

configuration, end-to-end information system, flight software.

System Engineering Techniques

Presentation of the major system engineering techniques: functional

analysis, block diagrams, design trade-offs, design budgets, interface

management, tradable parameters.

Introduction to Project Engineering

Other project considerations for a system engineer: requirements

definition and tracking, spacecraft integration and test, mission

operations, reliability and quality assurance, cost and risk management.


satellites, space system, space environment and and orbital mechanics

Learning Prerequisites

Required courses


Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

  • Structure a space project in development phases
  • Formulate the tasks and responsibilities of the system engineer
  • Dimension the overall system
  • Dimension each satellite subsystem
  • Elaborate a coherent and consistent system design
  • Design a space mission
  • Integrate constraints due to the space environment

Transversal skills

  • Set objectives and design an action plan to reach those objectives.
  • Plan and carry out activities in a way which makes optimal use of available time and other resources.
  • Use a work methodology appropriate to the task.
  • Access and evaluate appropriate sources of information.
  • Write a scientific or technical report.

Course Curriculum

The Space Shuttle and the International Space Station
Introduction to Space Systems and Space Tethers
Orbital Mechanics

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