ENGG 199 / ENGS 85: Fundamentals of Space Systems







Course Goal

Course Objectives




2012 Schedule



School of





pdf version



Intended for the engineer or physicist interested in the design of space experiments and space systems. Fundamental technical background, current state of the art, and example applications are presented. Topics include systems engineering, space environment, astrodynamics, propulsion and launch vehicles, attitude determination and control, space power systems and space communications. Course credit requires completion of a culminating project, in which teams of 2 or more students research, analyze and develop a conceptual design of a key element of a space system specified by the course instructors.

The course includes “significant design credit” for the BE degree. Seniors may take this course for major credit in engineering sciences as ENGS 85 if ENGS 84 has not already been elected for major credit.

Prerequisites: Senior or graduate standing in engineering or physics with approval of the instruc­tor. Seniors should have completed the required core courses for the physics major or for the engineer­ing sciences major through the gateway courses. Team taught by Lotko (lead), Ouellette, Brambles and Zhang.


Bill Lotko
Office: Room 217b, Cummings Hall
Telephone: 646-3485
E-mail: wlotko@dartmouth.edu
Office Hours: Open, anytime or by appointment
Oliver Brambles
Office: Room 215a, Cummings Hall
Telephone: 646-9993
E-mail: ojbrambles@dartmouth.edu
Office Hours: Open, anytime or by appointment
Jeremy Ouellette
Office: Room 209a, Cummings Hall
Telephone: 646-6920
E-mail: jeo@dartmouth.edu
Office Hours: Open, anytime or by appointment
Bin Zhang
Office: Room 215a, Cummings Hall
Telephone: 646-9993
E-mail: bzhang@dartmouth.edu
Office Hours: Open, anytime or by appointment

Teaching Assistant (STK Instruction)

Max Fagin

Office:  At large, Cummings-MacLean
Telephone: 719-661-3147
E-mail: Maxwell.H.Fagin@Dartmouth.edu
Office Hours: Open, anytime or by appointment


Mondays 3:00-5:00 pm and Thursdays 2:00-3:50 pm; X-hour Wednesdays 4:15-5:05 pm. The x-hour may be used occasionally. STK tutorials will be scheduled on select Tuesdays in the window 2:00-3:50 pm.


Fundamentals of Space Systems, 2nd edition (The Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory Series in Science and Engineering). Edited by Vincent L. Pisacane

Published by Oxford University Press, USA

Hardcover, 848 pages, June 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0195162059 | ISBN-10: 0195162056

Required textbook. Homework problems will be assigned from this book.

Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD, Space Technology Library, Vol. 28.

Edited by James R. Wertz, David F. Everett, Jeffery J. Puschell

Published by Microcosm Press

Paperback, 1048 pages, July 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1881883159 | ISBN-10: 1881883159

Recommended reference for the design project.

Design Project and CAD Software

The class will be divided into teams of 3 or 4 students each, and a major portion (60%) of the course grade will be based on development of a conceptual satellite mission by each team. The mission requirements are specified during the first week of class. Analysis of various aspects of the mission design will be facilitated by use of the industry standard software, satellite Systems Tool Kit (STK), which has been licensed for education use to the Thayer School of Engineering by STK developer, AGI Inc. STK is available on the Thayer CAD computers. Follow the link below for more information about STK.



The course grade is based on performance on homework and the design project with the following weights:

  Weekly Homework 40%
  Midterm Design Review 20%
  Final Design Review 20% oral; 20% written

Course Goal (VL Pisacane)

To expose each student to the fundamentals of key subsystems and their integration in a space­craft mission so that s/he will have the perspective of a spacecraft systems engineer.

Course Objectives (VL Piscane)

Learn the fundamentals of space systems engineering to the extent that the student can carry out a conceptual design of key subsystems of a spacecraft.

Learn how to make design tradeoffs to develop a comprehensive space mission.

Learn and apply the principles of space systems engineering.


More information about this course, including lecture notes, handouts, and links to useful information, is available at the ENGG199/ENGS85  Blackboard site. You can login to Blackboard using your DND username and password. If you have registered for ENGG 199 or ENGS 85, you will see a link in your "My Courses" list.


Some additional references are listed below.

Spacecraft Systems Engineering, 4th edition, edited by P Fortescue, G Swinerd, J Stark, Wiley 2011 “comprehensive coverage of the design of spacecraft and the implementation of space missions, across a wide spectrum of space applications and space science … ‘front-end system-level issues’ such as environment, mission analysis and system engineering … detailed examination of subsystem elements which represents the core of spacecraft design … mechanical, electrical and thermal aspects, as well as propulsion and control … supplemented by an emphasis on the interactions between elements.”
The Space Environment and Its Effects on Space Systems, VL Pisacane, AIAA Education Series 2008 Introduction to "the space environment and its impacts on spacecraft design, engineering, and performance … the history of spacecraft failures, risk management, reliability and quality assurance techniques, and parts reliability … overview of the structure of the Sun; the structure, origin, and models of the geomagnetic field; the gravitational field of the Earth; Earth’s magnetosphere and radiation environment; neutral environment; variation of pressure with altitude; electromagnetic propagation; effect of atomic oxygen on materials; plasma surrounding the Earth; transport and effects of photon and charged particle radiation on electronics and tissue; spacecraft contamination; techniques to mitigate debris impact; and heat transfer and thermal control of spacecraft.


ENGG 199/ENGS 85 Course Information | Thayer School of Engineering | Dartmouth College
Questions? Comments? Contact William.Lotko@Dartmouth.edu | Phone: 6-3485