Course Title: Spaceflight Systems Design

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Spaceflight Systems Design

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


115H Aerospace, Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering


Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


Bundoora Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021

Course Coordinator: Dr Alessandro Gardi

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 6075

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 251.03.065

Course Coordinator Availability: by email appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Completion of AERO2252 (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) and that of AERO2355 (Systems Engineering). 

Attendance to curricular courses in aerospace dynamics and control (e.g., AERO2356 and AERO2253), thermodynamics (e.g., MIET2421), advanced aerospace design methods (e.g., AERO2255 and AERO2357) and propulsion (e.g., AERO2360) is also recommended since this is an advanced and multidisciplinary design course. 

Course Description

In this course you will learn essential knowledge to undertake the multidisciplinary and multi-objective design of space missions and the investigation of the critical issues associated with them. You will study the fundamental physics and environmental factors that affect the design and behaviour of the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and propulsion systems carrying out such missions. In particular, you will focus on the fundamental technical notions underpinning the design of advanced space mission concepts and technologies such as CubeSats. You will tackle realistic challenges, which are introduced from real past and future mission concepts tackling contemporary issues (such as CubeSat constellations for Earth observation, space domain awareness or communication & navigation, commercial space transport) and learn to achieve an efficient and cost-effective mission concept. Emphasis is placed on critical analysis of mission requirements within the constraints posed by the spacecraft environment. 

You will also be introduced to the most relevant industry standards for the Design, Development, Test and Evaluation (DDT&E) of space-qualified hardware and software. The DDT&E and operational standards covered in the course include both non-human-rated and human-rated space missions. 

Lectures are delivered to cover the mission elements including the spacecraft, payload, and launch systems as well as the spacecraft subsystems such as the power, propulsion, attitude/thermal control, and telecommunications.

Please note that if you take this course for a bachelor honours program, your overall mark in this course will be one of the course marks that will be used to calculate the weighted average mark (WAM) that will determine your award level.
This applies to students who commence enrolment in a bachelor honours program from 1 January 2016 onwards.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge and Skill Base

1.5 Knowledge of contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline

1.6 Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of contemporary engineering practice in the specific discipline

2. Engineering Application Ability

2.3 Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes

2.4 Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering projects

3. Professional and Personal Attributes

3.3 Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanour

3.5 Orderly management of self, and professional conduct

3.6 Effective team membership and team leadership

On completion of this course you should be able to 

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in all the fundamental technical domains involved in the design of space missions and spacecraft
  2. Analyse space missions and understand rationales behind design
  3. Determine mission parameters, objectives and requirements
  4. Undertake preliminary analysis of thermal, power, structure and communication performance to fulfil specified missions 
  5. Identify key design drivers and critical issues for space missions
  6. Explain nature of past spaceflight failures and develop strategies for future missions
  7. Work within and effectively contribute to activities of cross-disciplinary mission analysis team 

Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities include pre-recorded lecture videos to ensure base knowledge for essential disciplines followed by tutorial sessions to provide guidance to undertake specific analyses using MATLAB/spreadsheet methods. The group assignment is project based, where a student team is formed to develop a viable space mission concept in line with the allocated descriptor. The team will examine the existing missions to understand the rationale behind the design and conduct in-depth analysis to identify critical issues. It will then summarise the gained knowledge and develop a design proposal for improvements to present in a form of a detailed report and technical presentation. The members will work closely as a team with a particular focus on the assigned disciplines and subsystems for which each member is responsible, reporting and discussing in regular meetings. The student experience includes a rigorous decision making process and thorough design reviews based on and trade-off studies for conflicting requirements. By working in a team you will learn to work and interact with peers, assuming professional conduct. 

Overview of Learning Resources

You will use various reference books and documents available in the library as well as online resources, available through Canvas. Basic spreadsheet/MATLAB calculation tools will be the main software resources for mission analysis and design, playing a significant role in the learning activities. Specialised resource materials will also be made available as necessary. 

Overview of Assessment

X This course has no hurdle requirements.

☐ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Quizzes 
Weighting: 20% 
This assessment task supports CLOs: 1, 5 & 6 

Assessment Task 2: Group Assignment 
Weighting: 50% 
This assessment task supports CLOs: 1 – 7 

Assessment Task 3: Individual Assignment 
Weighting: 30% 
This assessment task supports CLOs: 1 – 6