Masters in Space Systems

Master of Science
Classroom, Online, Off-site
Picatinny, Spaceport, Virtual Site
Major Code: 8137 Degree Awarded: Master of Science
Age Restriction: N Admission Status: graduate, Extended Studies
Delivery Mode/s: online, classroom, off-site Location/s: Spaceport, Virtual Site
Admission Materials: see below  

The graduate space systems program provides its graduates with the knowledge and capability to perform in a wide variety of technical and managerial areas, in industry, academia, and government agencies involved in the space program. It is for the student who expects to plan, design, build, integrate, test, launch, operate or manage space systems, subsystems, launch vehicles, spacecraft, payloads or ground systems.

The goal of the Master of Science in Space Systems is to prepare individuals for advanced leadership positions in the private, public and military sectors with specific skills and competencies in space systems.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Science in Space Systems program requires a bachelor's degree in a recognized field of engineering or physical science from an accredited curriculum. Coursework must have included mathematics through differential equations and at least one year of calculus-based physics. In the case of a marginal undergraduate record (GPA less than 3.0), letters of recommendation and results of recent GRE Tests, both General (verbal and quantitative) and Subject (engineering or physics) are required and could be deciding factors. Holders of the Professional Engineer license (or Engineering Intern status for those less than five years past the Baccalaureate) need not take the GRE Subject Test.

General admission requirements and the application process are discussed in the Academic Overview of this catalog. Individuals who do not meet the stated requirements for regular admission may petition to take graduate courses for credit as a continuing education applicant.

Degree Requirements

The degree of Master of Science in Space Systems is conferred upon students who have successfully completed 33 credit hours of core and elective courses as listed on the student's graduate program plan. It includes 24 hours of required space systems courses and nine hours of elective courses. Additional prerequisite courses may be required depending on the applicant's undergraduate preparation. With written permission from the director of space systems graduate studies, a student may substitute six semester hours of thesis credits in place of six elective credit hours.

Required Courses
  • SPC 5001 Introduction to Space Systems
    Credit Hours: 3
    Includes systems engineering, space flight history, space environment, astrodynamics, rocket propulsion, launch vehicle selection, space telecommunications, remote sensing, spacecraft configuration, structures, materials, power and thermal systems, launch and space mission operations, spacecraft navigation, guidance, control and military space applications.
  • SPC 5004 Space Propulsion Systems
    Credit Hours: 3
    Includes principles of rocket propulsion, liquid and solid chemical rockets, throttling and thrust vectoring, electric and electromagnetic propulsion, solar sailing, space tethers and nuclear radioisotope, fission reactor and fusion propulsion systems.
  • SPC 5005 Space Power Systems
    Credit Hours: 3
    Includes energy conversion and storage in space; chemical, mechanical and thermal energy storage; fuel cell types; photovoltaic cells, thermionic, thermoelectric and radioisotope thermoelectric generators; power generators; space nuclear technology; and space station energy system design.
  • SPC 5006 Space Communications and Data Systems
    Credit Hours: 3
    Reliable spacecraft telecommunication systems via radio frequency links with small performance margins. Digital modulation techniques, noise temperature, channel capacity and data/waveform coding techniques for BER improvement. Methods of data acquisition, storage and processing.
  • SPC 5012 Spacecraft Environment
    Credit Hours: 3
    The pre- and post-launch interactions between a space vehicle and its environment, including atmospheric density and composition; gravity and free-fall; mechanical, thermal electromagnetic field and energetic particle stresses; space debris impacts; and conducting space tether applications.
  • SPC 5013 Space Systems Astrodynamics
    Credit Hours: 3
    Includes two- and three-body orbital problems, sun-synchronous mapping orbits, geostationary orbit and perturbations, out-of-plane orbital transfers, orbital rendezvous, ballistic missile problems and patched conic and gravity-assist interplanetary trajectories.
  • SPC 5014 Spacecraft Dynamics and Control
    Credit Hours: 3
    Studies the dynamics of spacecraft attitude motion and pointing controls. Includes coordinate conversions, spacecraft principle axes, attitude control thrusters, spin and momentum exchange devices. Also includes spacecraft control transfer functions, disturbance torques and stability.
  • SPC 5080 Space Missions
    (See Note 1)
    Credit Hours: 3
    The competitive design, by student teams, of a space mission specified by the instructor. Candidate mission subjects include astronomy, communications, human space missions, planetary and interplanetary robotic exploration and remote sensing.
    Satisfactory completion of six required space systems courses with a GPA of at least 3.0
Electives (3 courses) (See Note 2)
Select three courses:
  • MGT 5134 Commercial Enterprise in Space
    Credit Hours: 3
    Includes economic considerations of space processing and Earth resources observation; history of in-space experimentation and developments; definition of Earth's orbital environment and its attendant commercial advantages; launch operations and landing/retrieval; financial/profit considerations of operating in space; and current commercial space opportunities and risks.
  • SPC 5009 Space Structures and Materials
    Credit Hours: 3
    Design of structures of adequate strength and stability with little weight margin. Tension, torsion, compound stresses, simple and composite beams, thin- and thick-walled cylinders and buckling. Properties of space-qualified materials, deterioration, damage, outgassing, oxidation, radiation resistance.
  • SPC 5010 Spacecraft Guidance, Navigation and Control
    Credit Hours: 3
    The principles and practice of electronic, inertial and stellar navigation, onboard and ground-controlled; attitude control methods and systems; and orbital guidance technology and systems.
  • SPC 5011 Human Space Systems
    Credit Hours: 3
    The role of astronauts in space. Astronaut and cosmonaut achievements in space research, extravehicular activity, long-duration space flight and lunar exploration. The space shuttle, space stations, future space habitats, lunar bases and expansion into heliocentric space.
  • SPC 5017 Aerospace Remote Sensing Systems
    Credit Hours: 3
    Principles and applications of remote sensing from the atmosphere and space; sensors for various wavelengths, imaging systems, data handling, image reconstruction and processing; contemporary remote sensing applications; geographic information systems and nonterrestrial atmospheres.
  • SPC 5018 Launch and Space Mission Operations
    Credit Hours: 3
    Overviews typical mission operations, from prelaunch through launch, tracking, orbit modification, spacecraft deployment and checkout. Range tracking, telemetry, safety instrumentation, transition to on-orbit communications, and tracking and data relay satellite system.
  • SPC 5065 Space Systems for Remote Operations
    Credit Hours: 3
    Principles of robotics, artificial intelligence and remotely controlled exploration, operation, observation and manipulation. Design of equipment for processing, manufacturing, maintaining and repairing equipment in space, and in lunar and planetary environments.
  • SPC 5066 Spaceflight Human Physiology
    Credit Hours: 3
    Emphasizes the physiologic capabilities and limitations of astronauts. Reviews data for each phase of space flight from the U.S. and Russian space programs. Previews human participation in long-duration space station, lunar and planetary missions.
    Graduate standing
  • SPC 5090 Special Topics in Space Systems
    Credit Hours: 3
    Individual study of specific problems in space systems.
    Department head approval
Total Credits Required: 33

*Serves as the capstone course for this program.

Note 1: Four-person student teams compete to develop the best proposal to carry out a specific mission in response to a Request for Proposals issued by the instructor acting as the Source Selection Official. Each team member's grade is partially determined by the team's competitive standing.

Note 2: Electives may be selected with the academic program chair's approval from the appropriate graduate-level offerings in the extended studies department or other academic units (e.g., business, engineering, science).