spring 2020

STE6296 Spacecraft System Engineering - 10 ECTS

Sist endret: 09.01.2020

The course is provided by

Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology


Narvik |

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 December

Exchange students and Fulbright students: 1 October

Type of course

The course can be taken as a singular subject.

Admission requirements

A relevant undergraduate bachelor Engineering programme with minimum 30 credits Mathematics/statistics topics

Relevant undergraduate (bachelor) Engineering degree, preferably within satellite engineering, telecommunications, electrical engineering or similar. 

Application code: 9371

Course content

The purpose of this course is to give the student an overview of the European space project standards including The European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS) and The Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) preparing him for participating in industrious European space projects. While dealing with large, complex projects system engineering focus on how these projects should be design and managed, including identifying design drivers, trade-off studies, budgets and the system engineering process. Also, the design methodology will be discussed with a special focus on concurrent design. The following technical topics will be presented throughout this course:Spacecraft structures and configuration

  • Coordinate system
  • Constraints
  • Arrangement types
  • Preliminary arrangement and mass estimation

Spacecraft mechanisms

  • One-shot devices

               Separation systems    

               Mechanisms for deployable structures

               Surface deployment devices

  • Continuously and intermittently operating devices
  • Components

               Electrical motors

               Slip rings

  • Testing and verification

Thermal control

  • General approaches and options
  • General design methodology
  • Basic theoretical analysis

               Thermal networks

  • Preliminary design
  • Design considerations

Command and data systems

  • Requirements
  • Data handling
  • Encoding and encryption
  • Command processing
  • Spacecraft computers and software 

Objectives of the course

After passing this topic, the student shall have the following knowledge and skill set:

Knowledge and understanding: The student shall have the knowledge and understanding on how to initiate and run space projects in all sizes with specific focus on the system engineering discipline. The topic is based on ECSS (European space standards) and gives an introduction on how standards are used throughout the project lifetime. The subject will also give brief introduction into the following technical design topics related to spacecraft design:

  • Space structures
  • Configuration
  • Thermal design
  • Command and data systems

Skills: The student shall be able to define a space mission, engineer mission requirements from the mission statement and evolve them into lower level requirements. He shall be able to lead or participate in any systems engineering group of a space project and control applicable documentation required by the project legal contract. He shall also be able to lead or participate in any group related to a subsystem design.

Language of instruction

All lectures will be held in English. If all students agree, lectures can be taught in Norwegian. All project documents shall be written in English and the phase A review will be conducted in English.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods and activities The students will achieve the knowledge and understanding through blackboard lecturing and tasks. Further, they will develop the skills through an extensive project emulating a small spacecraft phase A project where the whole class participate and collaborate.

Quality assurance of the course A questionnaire is given the students towards the end of the course providing feedback for further development of the topics.


Mandatory tasks: Project with oral presentation. Gradescale A-F, F is not passed.

Examinations and assessments: The students will be given a space mission statement which they collectively shall engineer mission requirements from. Then the students will be parted into groups, depending on the total number of students, and each group is responsible for designing a particular subsystem fulfilling the mission requirements. The results from the design process is to be filled in and submitted as a document package tailored by the project manager. At the end of the project, a phase A review will be conducted where each of the groups will present and defend their work. The final grade is chosen based on a total evaluation of the student efforts in team work/systems engineering, quality of design and delivered document and defense of the work through the review process.

Re-sit Exam: As grading is based on collaborative group work for the whole class, no continuation is available thus the student will have to follow the course the next year.

Date for examination

Hjemmeeksamen og muntlig presentasjon hand in date 05.03.2020

The date for the exam can be changed. The final date will be announced in the StudentWeb early in May and early in November.