Course Title: Satellites and Space Debris

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Satellites and Space Debris

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 2 2022,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Dr Brett Carter

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 0356

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 012.12.029

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment, by email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Assumed Knowledge

To successfully complete this course, you are expected to have capabilities consistent with the completion of VCE Mathematics (Specialist or Methods) at a Year 12 level.

Course Description

This course provides a detailed overview of artificial objects orbiting the Earth, namely satellites, and the problematic consequence of satellite launches, space debris. Topics covered include the history and present status of the common orbital regimes around the Earth, what satellites are up there and how we use them, particularly the Global Navigation Satellite Systems. We will also review the techniques used for tracking the ever-increasing number of objects being launched. The course will introduce orbital mechanics and cover some of the complications associated with predicting the future locations of the thousands and thousands of satellites and space debris in orbit.

This course will provide you with a detailed understanding of some of the technical challenges posed by decades of human activity in Earth orbit and the associated long-term sustainability of this increasingly accessible environment.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

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

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

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

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

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

5.3 You will develop an ability to work collaboratively.

After successfully completing this course you will be able to:

  1. Describe past and present human activity in space and how this has benefited society.
  2. Describe the current techniques and capabilities for tracking space objects.
  3. Apply elementary orbital mechanics and describe further complications in predicting the future locations of objects in space.
  4. Apply the tools available to responsibly plan future satellite missions.

Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities in this course will include:

  • lectorials where material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples.
  • group 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.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through myRMIT Studies Course.

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment Task

Assessment Task 1: Assignments
Weighting 30%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1-4

Assessment Task 2: Groupwork
Weighting 30%
This assessment task supports CLOs 2-4

Assessment Task 3: Skills & Capability Assessments
Weighting 40%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1-4

If you have a long-term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.