Viterbi School of Engineering

Astronautical Engineering

Degree Requirements

Educational Program Objectives

The Bachelor of Science degree program in Astronautical Engineering has the following objectives:

  • Graduates will apply technical skills in mathematics, science and engineering to solve complex problems of modern astronautical engineering practice.
  • Graduates will use advanced tools and techniques of engineering, and will innovate to advance the state of the art when needed.
  • Graduates will design and build complex engineering systems according to specifications and subject to technical as well as economic constraints.
  • Graduates will communicate with skill as members and leaders of multidisciplinary teams.
  • Graduates will make engineering decisions using high professional and ethical standards, taking into account their global, environmental and societal context.
  • Graduates will learn continuously throughout their careers in order to adapt to new knowledge and discoveries and to meet future challenges.

Bachelor of Science in Astronautical Engineering

The Bachelor of Science in Astronautical Engineering prepares students for engineering careers in the space industry, for research and development in industry and government centers and laboratories, and for graduate study. The program combines a core in the fundamentals of engineering, specialized work in astronautics and space technology, and technical electives to broaden and/or deepen the course work.

The requirement for this degree is 128 units. A cumulative grade point average of C (2.0) is required in all upper division courses applied towards the major, regardless of the department in which the courses are taken. See also the common requirements for undergraduate degrees section.

composition/writing requirements Units
WRIT 130 Analytical Writing 4
WRIT 340 Advanced Writing 4
8

General Education units
General education* + 20

Required lower division courses units
AME 150L Introduction to Computational Methods 4
AME 201 Statics 3
AME 204 Strength of Materials 3
ASTE 101L Introduction to Astronautics 4
ASTE 280 Astronautics and Space Environment I 3
CHEM 105aL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aL Advanced General Chemistry, or
MASC 110L Materials Science 4
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
MATH 126 Calculus II 4
MATH 226 Calculus III 4
MATH 245 Mathematics of Physics and Engineering I 4
PHYS 151L* Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics 4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 4
PHYS 153L Fundamentals of Physics III: Optics and Modern Physics 4

required upper division courses units
AME 301 Dynamics 3
AME 308 Computer-Aided Analysis for Aero-Mechanical Design 3
AME 341abL Mechoptronics Laboratory I and II 3-3
AME 404 Computational Solutions to Engineering Problems 3
AME 441aL Senior Projects Laboratory 3
AME 451 Linear Control Systems I 3
ASTE 301ab Thermal and Statistical Systems 3-3
ASTE 330 Astronautics and Space Environment II 3
ASTE 421x Space Mission Design 3
ASTE 470 Spacecraft Propulsion 3
ASTE 480 Spacecraft Dynamics 3
Elective Technical elective** 12
Total units: 128

*Satisfies GE Category III requirement.

**Technical electives consist of (1) any upper division course in engineering except CE 404, CE 412 and ISE 440, or (2) an upper division course in chemistry, physics or mathematics and MATH 225. No more than 3 units of 490 course work can be used to satisfy the technical elective requirement.

+The university allows engineering majors to replace the GE Category IV with a second course in Categories I, II or VI.

Minor in Astronautical Engineering

This program is for USC students who wish to work in the space industry and government space research and development centers and who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in science, mathematics or engineering with specializations other than in astronautical engineering.

The space industry employs a wide variety of engineers (electrical, mechanical, chemical, civil, etc.); scientists (physicists, astronomers, chemists); and mathematicians. These engineers participate in development of advanced space systems but they usually lack the understanding of basic fundamentals of astronautics and space systems. The minor in astronautical engineering will help overcome this deficiency and provide unique opportunities for USC engineering, science and mathematics students, by combining their basic education in their major field with the industry specific minor in astronautical engineering.

Required course work consists of a minimum of 18 units. Including prerequisites, the minor requires 46 units. Three courses, or 9 units, at the 400 level will be counted toward the minor degree. The course work is a balanced program of study providing the basic scientific fundamentals and engineering disciplines critically important for contributing to development of complex space systems.

Prerequisite courses: MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 226 and MATH 245; PHYS 151L, PHYS 152L and PHYS 153L.

Required courses units
ASTE 280 Astronautics and Space Environment I 3
ASTE 301a Thermal and Statistical Systems I 3
ASTE 330 Astronautics and Space Environment II 3
ASTE 421x Space Mission Design 3
ASTE 470 Spacecraft Propulsion 3
ASTE 480 Spacecraft Dynamics 3
Total minimum units: 18

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering

This degree is in the highly dynamic and technologically advanced area of astronautics and space technology. The program is designed for those with B.S. degrees in science and engineering who wish to work in the space sector of the defense/aerospace industry, government research and development centers, and laboratories and academia. The program is available through the USC Distance Education Network (DEN).

The general portion of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and two letters of recommendation are required.

Required courses: 27 units

Core requirement (12 units) units
ASTE 470 Spacecraft Propulsion 3
ASTE 520 Spacecraft System Design 3
ASTE 535 Space Environments and Spacecraft Interactions 3
ASTE 580 Orbital Mechanics I 3

Core elective requirement (6 units — choose two courses) units
ASTE 501ab Physical Gas Dynamics 3-3
ASTE 523 Design of Low Cost Space Missions 3
ASTE 527 Space Studio Architecting 3
ASTE 552 Spacecraft Thermal Control 3
ASTE 553 Systems for Remote Sensing from Space 3
ASTE 554 Spacecraft Sensors 3
ASTE 556 Spacecraft Structural Dynamics 3
ASTE 570 Liquid Rocket Propulsion 3
ASTE 572 Advanced Spacecraft Propulsion 3
ASTE 581 Orbital Mechanics II 3
ASTE 583 Space Navigation: Principles and Practice 3
ASTE 584 Spacecraft Power Systems 3
ASTE 585 Spacecraft Attitude Control 3
ASTE 586 Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics 3

Technical elective requirement (6 units)
Two 3-unit courses. Students are advised to select these two elective courses from the list of core electives or from other courses in astronautical engineering or from other science and engineering graduate courses, as approved by the faculty adviser. No more than 3 units of directed research (ASTE 590) can be applied to the 27-unit requirement. New courses on emerging space technologies are often offered; consult the current semester’s course offerings, particularly for ASTE 599 Special Topics.

Engineering mathematics requirement (choose one course: 3 units) units
AME 525 Engineering Analysis 3
AME 526 Engineering Analytical Methods 3
CE 529a Finite Element Analysis 3
EE 517 Statistics for Engineers 3
PHYS 510 Methods of Theoretical Physics 3

At least 21 units must be at the 500 or 600 level.

Areas of Concentration:

Students choose core elective and technical elective courses that best meet their educational objectives. Students can also concentrate their studies in the desired areas by selecting corresponding core elective courses. Presently, ASTE faculty suggest the following areas of concentration:

Spacecraft propulsion units
Choose two core electives from:
ASTE 501ab Physical Gas Dynamics 3-3
ASTE 570 Liquid Rocket Propulsion 3
ASTE 572 Advanced Spacecraft Propulsion 3
ASTE 584 Spacecraft Power Systems 3

Spacecraft dynamics units
Choose two core electives from:
ASTE 556 Spacecraft Structural Dynamics 3
ASTE 581 Orbital Mechanics II 3
ASTE 583 Space Navigation: Principles and Practice 3
ASTE 585 Spacecraft Attitude Control 3
ASTE 586 Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics 3

Space systems design units
Choose two core electives from:
ASTE 523 Design of Low Cost Space Missions 3
ASTE 527 Space Studio Architecting 3

(SAE 549 System Architecting I, 3 units, is also suggested as a technical elective for this area of concentration.)

Spacecraft systems units
Choose two core electives from:
ASTE 552 Spacecraft Thermal Control 3
ASTE 553 Systems for Remote Sensing from Space 3
ASTE 554 Spacecraft Sensors 3
ASTE 584 Spacecraft Power Systems 3

Space applications units
ASTE 527 Space Studio Architecting 3
ASTE 553 Systems for Remote Sensing from Space 3
ASTE 554 Spacecraft Sensors 3

Engineer in Astronautical Engineering

The Engineer degree in Astronautical Engineering is in the highly dynamic and technologically advanced area of space technology. The program is designed for those with Master of Science degrees in science and engineering who want to prepare for work in the space industry, government research and development centers and national laboratories. The applicant may be required to take one to two upper division undergraduate courses. The Engineer degree in Astronautical Engineering is awarded in strict conformity with the general requirements for the USC Graduate School. See the general requirements for graduate degrees. Each student wishing to undertake the Engineer program must first be admitted to the program and then take the screening examination. Further guidance concerning admission, screening exam and the full completion of courses, including those given outside the Department of Astronautical Engineering, can be obtained from the ASTE student adviser, program coordinators and faculty in each technical area.

Doctor of Philosophy in Astronautical Engineering

The Ph.D. in Astronautical Engineering is awarded in strict conformity with the general requirements of the USC Graduate School. See general requirements for graduate degrees. The degree requires a concentrated program of study, research and a dissertation. Each student wishing to undertake a doctoral program must first be admitted to the program and then take the screening examination. This examination will emphasize comprehension of fundamental material in the graduate course work. Further guidance concerning admission, the screening exam and the full completion of courses, including those given outside the Department of Astronautical Engineering, can be obtained from the ASTE student adviser and program coordinators.

Certificate in Astronautical Engineering

The Certificate in Astronautical Engineering is designed for practicing engineers and scientists who enter space-related fields and/or want to obtain training in specific space-related areas. Students enroll at USC as limited status students; they must apply and be admitted to the certificate program after completion of no more than 9 units of required course work. The required course work consists of 12 units; students will choose four 3-unit courses from the following:

Required courses (choose four) units
ASTE 501ab Physical Gas Dynamics 3-3
ASTE 520 Spacecraft System Design 3
ASTE 523 Design of Low Cost Space Missions 3
ASTE 527 Space Studio Architecting 3
ASTE 535 Space Environments and Spacecraft Interactions 3
ASTE 552 Spacecraft Thermal Control 3
ASTE 553 Systems for Remote Sensing from Space 3
ASTE 556 Spacecraft Structural Dynamics 3
ASTE 572 Advanced Spacecraft Propulsion 3
ASTE 580 Orbital Mechanics I 3
ASTE 581 Oribital Mechanics II 3
ASTE 583 Space Navigation: Principles and Practice 3
ASTE 584 Spacecraft Power Systems 3
ASTE 585 Spacecraft Attitude Control 3
ASTE 586 Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics 3
ASTE 599 Special Topics 3

Most classes are available through the USC Distance Education Network (DEN).

Credit for classes may be applied toward the M.S., Engineer or Ph.D. in Astronautical Engineering, should the student decide later to pursue an advanced degree. In order to be admitted to the M.S. program, the student should maintain a B average or higher in courses for the certificate and must satisfy all normal admission requirements. All courses for the certificate must be taken at USC. It is anticipated that other classes on emerging space technologies will be added to the list of the offered classes in the future.