Course Title: Rocket Science

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Rocket Science

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Coordinator: Dr Gail Iles

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2610

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 14.6.15

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

It is assumed that you have completed courses in mathematics OR physics OR engineering at the first year university level. Ideally, you would have completed GEOM2160 Satellites and Space Debris. 

Course Description

This course is an introduction to orbital mechanics and astrodynamics.  The course will cover escape velocities and associated rocket and launcher aerodynamics. The course includes problem-solving activities related to calculating orbits and trajectories, orbit matching, gravity assists, docking and berthing. The course expands on basic space instrumentation knowledge to include landing on astronomical bodies and the instrumentation required in order to perform scientific measurements far from Earth.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the development of the following Program Learning Outcomes in BP330 Bachelor of Space Science:


PLO 1.2 You will demonstrate an understanding of the role and relevance of science and engineering in the field of space science and technology.

PLO 2.1 You will have broad knowledge in space science and technology with deep knowledge in its core concepts.

PLO 2.2 You will have knowledge in at least one discipline other than your primary discipline and some understanding of interdisciplinary linkages.

PLO 3.3 You will be able to choose appropriate tools and methods to solve scientific problems within your area of specialisation.

PLO 3.4 You will demonstrate well-developed problem solving skills, applying your knowledge and using your ability to think analytically and creatively.

PLO 5.1 You will develop a capacity for independent and self-directed work.

PLO 5.2 You will work responsibly, safely, legally and ethically.

PLO 5.3 You will develop an ability to work collaboratively.


After completing this course you will be able to:

  1. Analyse and solve problems in fields of planetary science.
  2. Calculate thrust quotients for launchers.
  3. Utilise orbital mechanics formulas to calculate satellite trajectories.
  4. Design landers for delivering payloads to astronomical bodies.

Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities in this course will include:

  • lectures where material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples.
  • group laboratory exercises and interactive activities that reinforce the importance of clear scientific communication.
  • private study, working through the theory as presented in course material, available texts and notes.
  • online assignments designed to probe an understanding of presented concepts, and to give feedback on student progress and understanding.


Total Study Hours

72 hours. Two (2) hours per week face to face lectures plus four (4) hours per week private study/project work.

Overview of Learning Resources

By participating in this course you will be expected to download a copy of the course material from Canvas and have access to the library and internet for research and/or video resources. A list of useful website links and library resources will be provided.

Overview of Assessment

Note that:

This course has no hurdle requirements.


On-going Assessment Tasks:

Assignments:    30% (Addresses CLOs 1-3)

Lab work:          30% (Addresses CLOs 2, 3)

Examination:     40% (Addresses CLOs 1-3)