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Spacecraft System Design

ASTE 520

Department of Astronautical Engineering (ASTE)

Viterbi School of Engineering (VSOE)

University of Southern California (USC)

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering (MS ASTE)

MS ASTE - Frequently asked questions

MS ASTE - schedule of courses

Mike's ASTE 470 Spacecraft Propulsion



who should take course ASTE 520 Spacecraft Design  aste520 spacecraft 
design information        MS ASTE Program Update


From firecrackers to interstellar flight

socks for Yuri Gagarin

North Korea satellite launch

ISS hole and leak

Space: From Firecrackers to Interstellar Flight
Part 1. The First Thousand Years. (87 min)
Part 2.  Space in 21st Century. (84 min)

Socks for the First Cosmonaut of Planet Earth

Analysis of satellite launch by North Korea in December 2012 and ballistic missile threat
(video, 18 min)

Hole and leak at the International Space Station, August 2018
9 min 8 sec


Instructor: Mike Gruntman

Advanced degrees in astronautical engineering for the space industry,
Acta Astronautica, 2014

gruntman acta astronautica 2014

Master of Science Degree in Astronautical Engineering Through Distance Learning,
IAC-18-E1-4-11, IAC, 2018



atsronautics enrollment statistics ASTE 520 in Fall 2019 semester:
all course materials will be posted
on the class web site at DEN in mid August.

One can get more information about the course
from the Fall 2019 first (introductory) lecture:
ASTE 520 – first lecture.
In 2019–2020 academic year, ASTE520 Spacecraft Design
is offered in the fall 2019 semester (Thursday, 6:40–9:20 pm);
the course is not offered in the spring 2020 semester.
See astronautics course schedule
Class enrollement is unlimited.
Note that shedules do change.
Always check the course schedule with ASTE Student Advisor.

Course webcasts. All lectures are available as webcasts through VSOE's Distance Education Network DEN to all (on-campus and remote) students enrolled in the course during the entire semester.

PC or Mac. DEN streams course videos using Microsoft Windows media encoders and servers. While streaming windows media files are supported by both the latest Mac and PC operating systems, using a Windows based system will usually provide a better experience. Additionally, DEN has recently added video download capabilities using Microsoft’s Digital Rights Management supporting Windows operating systems.


ASTE-520 is a popular graduate course.

Nearly 1900 students took the course since 1996.


rocket equation coffee mug for rocket scientists rocket equation mousepad for rocket scientists rocket equation T-shirt for rocket scientists yes-to-engineering sticker for rocket scientists  –  other rocket science items


Recommended science and engineering books on astronautics, rocketry, and space technology

Recommended missile defense books

Recommended books on history of astronautics, rocketry, and space


About Course ASTE 520



ASTE 520 Spacecraft System Design -- Course Outline

see also a recent first organizational lecture of the course for details)


Recommended science and engineering books on astronautics, rocketry, and space technology

Recommended missile defense books

Recommended books on history of astronautics, rocketry, and space


Only for students enrolled in Mike's ASTE 520

Class Notes (800+ pages) are essential and mandatory for the course.
The notes are available for download at DEN's web site of ASTE520 in the beginning of the semester.

Alsways start with reading the "readme.pdf" file for the instructions.

The full set of homework assignments will also be available in the beginning of the semester (at the latest, by the end of the first month of the semester).

To access the class web site at DEN, all students enrolled in the class (including all on-campus students) must register with DEN.

Note that the course notes are protected with a password that can be obtained only from the instructor (see Section 00, Part 2).


ASTE-520: Recommended textbooks

textbooks = recommended; course notes = required

The New SMAD Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD
eds. J. R. Wertz, D.F. Everett, and J.J. Puschell
Microcosm, 2011
ISBN 9781881883159

Space Mission Analysis and Design , ed. W.J. Larson and J.R. Wertz
Kluwer Academic Publishers and Microcosm, 3rd Edition
ISBN 9781881883104 .

Many other textbooks and monographs -- recommended by the instructor -- on
various aspects of astronautics, space technology, and space systems are listed at
http://astronauticsnow.com/AstroBooks/index.html



There are 30–36 homework assignments.
Late homework (up to 2 weeks) is graded with grades reduced by a 50% factor.


Grading policy for ASTE 520 (subject to change)

Midterm exam = 40%
Final exam = 40%
Homework = 20%


Awarded (annual) Master's degrees in Astronautical Engineering

MS ASTE graduation statistics