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 575 Rocket and Spacecraft Propulsion (former ASTE 470)

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

160+ problems with detailed solutions

that were given, could have been given,

or should have been given in ASTE-520

Fundamentals of Space Missions

Magnitudes of stars and satellites. The solar system. Coordinate systems and time. Plane and solid angles. Space environment and spacecraft interactions. Satellite atmospheric drag. Solar radiation pressure. Gravitational field. The Earth. Basics of orbital mechanics. Orbital elements, transfers, and maneuvers. Orbit evolution and common orbits. Space mission geometry.

Fundamentals of Space Missions

Fundamentals of Space Missions

Fundamentals of Space Missions – 3-page info (pdf) – list of problems

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

Mike  on LinkedIn  in Wikipedia

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 the Fall, 2022, semester:
all course materials will be posted
on the class web site at DEN's D2L in mid August.

One can get more information about the course
from the typical first (introductory) lecture (Fall 2022):
ASTE 520 – first lecture.
In 2022–2023 academic year, ASTE520 Spacecraft Design
will be offered in the Fall, 2022, semester (Thursday, 6:40–9:20 pm);
the course is not offered in the spring, 2023, 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, D2L to all (on-campus and remote) students enrolled in the course during the entire semester.

ASTE-520 is a popular graduate course.

More than 2200 students took the course since 1994.

About Course ASTE 520


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


Recommended missile defense books


Recommended books on history of astronautics, rocketry, and space

ASTE 520 Spacecraft System Design -- Course Outline

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

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 (none required); course notes = required

The New SMAD     SMAD     Spacecraft System Engineering     Fundamentals of Space Systems     astro problems

J. R. Wertz, D.F. Everett, and J.J. Puschell (eds), Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD, Microcosm, 2011
search the web for better prices, e.g., at Microcosm's bookstore at
ISBN 9781881883159

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

P. Fortescue, G. Swinerd, J. Stark, Spacecraft Systems Engineering, Wiley, 2011
ISBN 9780470750124.

V. L. Pisacane, Fundamentals of Space Systems, Oxford Univ. Press, 2005 and other editions
ISBN 9780195162059.

M. Gruntman, Fundamentals of Space Missions: Problems with Solutions, Interstellar Trail Press, 2022
ISBN 9798985668742.
book details at

Insist your institutional and local libraries get these books for you to use.

Many other textbooks and monographs -- recommended by the instructor -- on
various aspects of astronautics, space technology, and space systems are listed at

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


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


Recommended missile defense books


Recommended books on history of astronautics, rocketry, and space

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