University of Southern California

Viterbi School of Engineering

Astronautical Engineering

Courses of Instruction

Astronautics and space technology (ASTE)

The terms indicated are expected but are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

ASTE 101L Introduction to Astronautics (4, Fa) Gateway to the Astronautical Engineering major. Introduction to space, space exploration and the space business. Elements of orbits, spacecraft systems, rocket propulsion, and communications. Laboratory: introduction to graphics, computation and simulation.

ASTE 280 Foundations of Astronautical Engineering (3, Sp) Coordinate systems and transformations. Spherical trigonometry. Orientation angles. Spacecraft orbits and orbital maneuvers. Introduction to rocket propulsion, spacecraft attitude dynamics and control, and space environment. Prerequisite: MATH 226 and PHYS 152L. Recommended preparation: Skill in MATLAB programming.

ASTE 291 Team Projects I (1, max 4, FaSp) Participation in ASTE undergraduate student team projects. Intended for lower-division students or those with little prior project experience.

ASTE 301ab Thermal and Statistical Systems (3-3, FaSp) Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; kinetics of atoms, molecules, and photons; compressible fluid dynamics. (Duplicates credit in former AME 311ab.) Prerequisite: MATH 245, PHYS 153L.

ASTE 330 Introduction to Spacecraft Systems and the Space Environment (3, Fa) Spacecraft systems: attitude determination and control, power, thermal, command and data handling, telecommunication, structures and mechanisms, propulsion. Space environment: atmosphere, gravity gradients, radiation. Prerequisite: ASTE 280 and PHYS 153.

ASTE 390 Special Problems (1-4) Supervised, individual studies. No more than one registration permitted. Enrollment by petition only.

ASTE 421x Space Mission Design (3, Sp) Space systems engineering process: requirements definition; trade studies; system integration; technical reviews; cost and schedule development; case studies; ethics. Capstone design experience. Open only to seniors. Not for graduate credit. Prerequisite: ASTE 330.

ASTE 445 Molecular Gas Dynamics (3) Physical description of kinetic nature of gas flows; distribution function; introduction to the Boltzmann equation; free-molecule flow; surface and molecular reflection properties; Monte Carlo flow calculations. (Duplicates credit in former AME 485.) Recommended preparation: AME 309 or ASTE 301b.

ASTE 470 Spacecraft Propulsion (3) Introduction to rocket engineering. Space missions and thrust requirements. Compressible gas dynamics. Propellant chemistry and thermodynamics. Liquid- and solid-fueled rockets. Nuclear and electric propulsion. Prerequisite: senior or graduate standing.

ASTE 480 Spacecraft Dynamics (3) Two-body motion, rigid-body motion, attitude dynamics and maneuvers, spacecraft stabilization: gravity gradient, reaction wheels, magnetic torques, thruster attitude control. Prerequisite: senior standing.

ASTE 490x Directed Research (1-8, max 12, FaSpSm) Individual research and readings. Not available for graduate credit.

ASTE 491 Team Projects II (1, max 4, FaSp) Participation in ASTE undergraduate student team projects. Intended for students with prior project experience.

ASTE 499 Special Topics (2-4, max 8) Course content to be selected each semester from current developments in astronautics, space technology, and related fields.

ASTE 501ab Physical Gas Dynamics (3-3, FaSp) a: Molecular structure; radiative processes; microscopic description of gas phenomena; translational, rotational, vibrational, and electronic freedom degrees; particle energy distributions; microscopic representation of thermodynamic functions. Prerequisite: graduate standing or departmental approval. b: Kinetic concepts in gas physics; thermal non-equilibrium; intermolecular potentials; transport of radiation and particles in high-temperature gas; dissociation and ionization equilibrium; energy relaxation. Prerequisite: ASTE 501a.

ASTE 505ab Plasma Dynamics (3-3, FaSp) Charged particle dynamics. Kinetic fluid theories. Rarefied and collisional plasma flows. Plasma-surface interactions. Waves, instabilities, turbulence. Applications in engineering and space technology. Recommended preparation: Graduate standing in engineering or physics. (Duplicates credit in EE 572ab).

ASTE 520 Spacecraft System Design (3) System components; vehicle structure, propulsion systems, flight dynamics, thermal control, power systems, telecommunication. Interfaces and tradeoffs between these components. Testing, system reliability, and integration.

ASTE 523 Design of Low Cost Space Missions (3, Sp) Reviews all aspects of space mission design for practical approaches to reducing cost. Examines “LightSat” mission experience and potential applicability to large-scale missions. Graduate standing in engineering or science. Recommended preparation: ASTE 520 or some experience in space engineering.

ASTE 524 Human Spaceflight (3) Engineering, technologies, and systems for human spaceflight. Life support, space environments, crew accommodations. Mission operations, safety. Astrodynamics, launch and space vehicles, space stations, planetary bases.

ASTE 527 Space Studio Architecting (3, Sp) Programmatic/conceptual design synthesis/choice creation methods for complex space missions. Aerospace system engineering/architecture tools to create innovative projects. Evaluated by faculty/industry/NASA experts. Graduate standing in engineering or science. Recommended preparation: ASTE 520 or experience in space industry.

ASTE 529 Safety of Space Systems and Space Missions (3) Engineering methodology and analysis techniques for safety certification and mission assurance of robotic and human space systems and space missions by government and commercial industry. Recommended preparation: ASTE 520 or some experience in space engineering. Open only to Engineering graduate students.

ASTE 535 Space Environments and Spacecraft Interactions (3) Space environments and interactions with space systems. Vacuum, neutral and ionized species, plasma, radiation, micrometeoroids. Phenomena important for spacecraft operations.

ASTE 545 Computational Techniques in Rarefied Gas Dynamics (3, Irregular) Particle-based computational simulation methods for rarefied, high-speed flows. Molecular collision kinetics. Monte Carlo direct simulation and related techniques. Recommended preparation: ASTE 501a and skill in FORTRAN programming.

ASTE 546 Computational Plasma Dynamics (3, Sp) Plasma simulation techniques; particle-in-cell (PIC); PIC with Monte Carlo; computational electromagnetics; computational magnetohyrdodynamics. Parallelization. Applications in engineering and space plasma physics. Prerequisite: ASTE 505a.

ASTE 552 Spacecraft Thermal Control (3, Sp) Spacecraft and orbit thermal environments; design, analysis, testing of spacecraft thermal control system and components; active and passive thermal control, spacecraft and launch vehicle interfaces. Graduate standing in engineering or science.

ASTE 553 Systems for Remote Sensing from Space (3) The operation, accuracy, resolution, figures of merit, and application of instruments which either produce images of ground scenes or probe the atmosphere as viewed primarily from space. Graduate standing in engineering or physics.

ASTE 554 Spacecraft Sensors (3, Fa) Spacecraft sensors from concept and design to building, testing, interfacing, integrating, and operations. Optical and infrared sensors, radiometers, radars, phased arrays, signal processing, noise reduction. Graduate standing in engineering or science. Recommended preparation: ASTE 520.

ASTE 556 Spacecraft Structural Dynamics (3) Applied analytical methods (vibrations of single and multi-degree of freedom systems, finite element modeling, spacecraft applications); requirements definition process; analytical cycles; and design verification. Graduate standing in engineering or science.

ASTE 557 Spacecraft Structural Strength and Materials (3) Spacecraft structural strength analysis and design concepts overview; spacecraft material selection; analysis of composite materials; finite element method; spacecraft configuration; structural testing; bolted joint design. Open only to master’s, professional, and doctoral students.

ASTE 570 Liquid Rocket Propulsion (3, Sp) Liquid-propelled rocket propulsion systems. Capillary devices for gas-free liquid acquisition in zero gravity. Ground and in-orbit operations. Propellant life predictions and spacecraft end-of-life de-orbiting strategies. Prerequisite: ASTE 470.

ASTE 572 Advanced Spacecraft Propulsion (3, Sp) Nuclear, electric, sails, and far-term propulsion systems. Overviews of nozzles, heat transfer, electromagnetics, rarefied gases, and plasma physics. Analysis of electrothermal, electrostatic and electromagnetic thrusters. Graduate standing in engineering or science. Recommended preparation: ASTE 470.

ASTE 580 Orbital Mechanics I (3) Physical principles; two-body and central force motion; trajectory correction maneuvers; position and velocity in conic orbits; Lambert’s problem; celestial mechanics; orbital perturbations.

ASTE 581 Orbital Mechanics II (3, Fa) Theory of perturbations of orbits; numerical methods in orbital mechanics; satellite dynamics; averaging methods; resonance; mission analysis. Prerequisite: ASTE 580.

ASTE 583 Space Navigation: Principles and Practice (3, Sp) Statistical orbit determination: (weighted) least squares, batch and sequential (Kalman) processing, illustrative examples; online ephemeris generation: potentially hazardous asteroids, comets, satellites; launch: vehicles, payloads, staging. Graduate standing in engineering or science. Recommended preparation: ASTE 580.

ASTE 584 Spacecraft Power Systems (3, Sp) Introduction to solar arrays, batteries, nuclear power sources, mechanical energy storage. Application theory of operation, practical considerations. Subsystem topologies and performance. Design optimization techniques. Graduate standing in engineering or science.

ASTE 585 Spacecraft Attitude Control (3, SpSm) Review of attitude dynamics, gravity gradient stabilization, attitude stabilization with a spin, attitude maneuvers, control using momentum exchange devices, momentum-biased stabilization, reaction thruster control. Prerequisite: AME 451 or EE 482; recommended preparation: a course in dynamics.

ASTE 586 Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics (3) Dynamics of systems of particles and rigid bodies; spacecraft attitude systems; attitude maneuvers (spin, precession, nutation, etc.); attitude stabilization and attitude determination; simulation methods.

ASTE 590 Directed Research (1-12, FaSpSm) Research leading to the master’s degree. Maximum units which may be applied to the degree to be determined by the division. Graded CR/NC.

ASTE 594abz Master’s Thesis (2-2-0, FaSpSm) Credit on acceptance of thesis. Graded IP/CR/NC.

ASTE 599 Special Topics (2-4, max 9) Course content to be selected each semester from current developments in astronautics, space technology, and related fields.

ASTE 683 Advanced Spacecraft Navigation (3) Advanced topics in spacecraft navigation: rendezvous, frozen/sun synchronous orbits, stationkeeping. Nonlinear filtering for orbit and attitude determination. Optical navigation. Mission applications. Prerequisite: ASTE 580 and ASTE 583; recommended preparation: skill in MATLAB programming.

ASTE 690 Directed Research (1-4, max 8, FaSpSm) Laboratory studies of specific problems by candidates for the degree Engineer in Astronautical Engineering. Graded CR/NC.

ASTE 694abz Thesis (2-2-0, FaSpSm) Required for the degree Engineer in Astronautical Engineering. Credit on acceptance of thesis. Graded IP/CR/NC.

ASTE 790 Research (1-12, FaSpSm) Research leading to the doctorate. Maximum units which may be applied to the degree to be determined by the division. Graded CR/NC.

ASTE 794abcdz Doctoral Dissertation (2-2-2-2-0, FaSpSm) Credit on acceptance of dissertation. Graded IP/CR/NC.