Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
How to Design a Space Mission: From Concept to Execution
Space exploration is truly fascinating. From the space race led by governments as an outgrowth of the Cold War to the new Era of space commercialization led by private companies and startups, more than 50 years have passed characterized by great leap forwards and discoveries. In this seminar you will learn how space missions are designed, from concept to execution, based on the professional experience of the lecturer and numerous examples of spacecraft, including unique hardware demonstrations by startups of the Silicon Valley. You will get to study the essentials of systems engineering as applicable to a variety of mission types, for communication, navigation, science, commercial, and military applications. And you will explore the elements of a space mission, including the spacecraft and ground and launch segments. We will give special emphasis to the design cycle, to understanding how spacecraft are born, from the stakeholders' needs, through analysis, synthesis, all the way to their integration and validation. You will get to compare current designs with those employed in the early days of the space age, as well as the importance of economics in the development of spacecraft. Finally, working as a team, you will get to brainstorm startup ideas and apply the concepts learned to a notional space mission design.
The goal is not to make everyone into a space engineer but to provide you with an introduction to space systems engineering; develop a systems engineering perspective of how space missions are conceived, developed, and implemented; and establish a basic knowledge of the methods and tools involved.