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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Aerospace Engineering (AERSP)

AERSP 309 Astronautics (3) Introduction to space and space flight; laws of particle mechanics; orbits and trajectories; space vehicles and propulsion.

AERSP 309 Astronautics (3)

This course, required for aerospace engineering majors, focuses primarily on the dynamics of spaceflight, including both orbital and attitude (orientation) motion of spacecraft. Topics include: three-dimensional rotational kinematics (direction cosine matrices, vector components in different coordinate systems, Euler angles, the angular velocity vector, and velocity and acceleration in different reference frames), three-dimensional particle dynamics (Newton’s laws of particle motion, energy, angular momentum, and systems of particles), two-body orbital mechanics (Newton’s law of universal gravitation, the orbit equation, conic sections and orbit terminology, Kepler’s equation, classical orbital elements, and representations of satellite position and velocity), orbital maneuvers and transfers (impulsive maneuvers, Hohmann transfers, simple inclination changes, and relative motion between spacecraft), rigid-body dynamics (angular momentum and energy, the inertia matrix, principal-axis system, Euler’s equations of rigid-body motion, torque-free motion, and effects of external torques), rocket performance (the rocket equation, specific impulse, estimating propellant requirements for a mission, and a survey of propulsion technology), and the space environment (standard atmosphere, simple radiative heat-transfer analysis, the Van Allen radiation belts, meteors and debris hazards).

The course relies upon a sound understanding of mechanics, matrix algebra and vector calculus. Assignments include analytical and numerical problems, some of which require computer programming.

General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 2012
Prerequisite: E MCH 212, MATH 250;CMPSC 201 orCMPSC 202

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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