Spacecraft Systems Design

This intensive five day course provides delegates with an introduction to the engineering aspects of satellite and mission design - with particular emphasis on the design of small low-cost satellites.



University of Surrey


Mon 29 Jun - Fri 3 Jul 2020

Number of days

Five weekdays

Hours of study

9am - 5pm

Course overview

Through a series of intensive lectures and exercises, the course aims to give an introduction to the design and construction of spacecraft, showing how the mission, and the space environment itself constrain the engineering.

Assumed prior knowledge

It will be assumed that delegates have a basic understanding of orbits and spacecraft dynamics.

Course details

Please note that we reserve the right to alter the syllabus. Any major changes will be notified to delegates before the course starts.

On successful completion of this course, you will have knowledge of:

  • The space environment and its effects
  • Spacecraft platform systems and design
  • Satellite manufacture and testing
  • Applications of small, low-cost satellites
  • Space mission analysis and design.

By the end of the course, you should have a good understanding of the way that satellites are designed and built. Because the course gives emphasis to the theoretical aspects of the subject, you will be able to apply your knowledge to a wide range of spacecraft design problems ranging from single payloads to whole spacecraft.

Day one - Space mission design


Elements of a space mission: The mission, the spacecraft, trajectories and orbits, launch vehicles, mission operations systems, mission management and operations systems engineering.

Overview of Orbit and Constellation Design: The orbit design process. Earth coverage. Simple delta-V budgets. Selecting orbits and constellations. Common Examples.

Designing for Space (1);  Designing for Space (2) : The physical environment of space and spacecraft system design.  

Day two - Mechanical and thermal design

Mechanical Design (1); Mechanical Design (2) : Frameworks and Structures, stress analysis, loads and stiffness, elastic instabilities, vibration, materials selection, structural analysis.

Thermal Design (1); Thermal Design (2) : Thermal sources and transport mechanisms in space, thermal balance, thermal  control elements, thermal design and implementation.

Day three - Sensors and mechanisms, guidance and control

Mechanisms and Optics: (1)  Mechanisms and Optics (2)  kinematics, bearings and lubrication, motors and drives; mechanisms, wheels, materials. Optical mountings, alignment, and stray-light control. Simple optics, telescopes.

Sensors, Guidance, Navigation and Control Systems (1); Sensors, Guidance, Navigation and Control Systems (2) : Optical sensor technology; ADCS sensor technology; GNC systems.

Day four - Power, communication, and data handling systems

Power Systems, EMC and Interfacing (1); Power Systems, EMC and Interfacing (2): Power generation, storage, regulation and monitoring. Harnesses and connectors, EMC, shielding and grounding, monitoring and protection

TT&C, RF Systems and On-Board Data Handling (1), TT&C, RF Systems and On-Board Data Handling (2): Tracking, telemetry, & command systems; RF link, data handling, OBCs.

Day five - Small satellite design

Micro/Nano-Satellite Design Principles: Organisation, the KISS principle, capabilities, technology road-map
Space Mission Design Exercise (1,2,3).

Dr Craig Underwood, Deputy Director (Teaching) Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.

  • Maral & Bousquet 'Satellite Communications Systems' (3rd Ed), Wiley ISBN 0-471-97166-9 : 1998
  • Jerry Jon Sellers 'Understanding Space - An Introduction to Astronautics',  McGraw Hill ISBN 0-07-057027-2 : 1994
  • Fortesque & Stark (eds) 'Spacecraft Systems Engineering', John Wiley & Sons ISBN 0-471-93451-8 : 1992
  • W.J. Larson (eds) 'Space Mission Analysis & Design'(2nd Ed), Kluwer Academic Publishers ISBN 0-7923-19982.


Price per person includes lunch, refreshments and course notes which will be provided on USB sticks and on Dropbox:

Non IET members

  • £1,950 - Standard rate
  • £1,850 - Early bird rate for payment received one month before 29 May 2020

IET Members (proof of membership needed)

  • £1,950 - Standard rate
  • £1,750 - Early bird rate for payment received one month before 29 May 2020

How to apply

Payment can be accepted by purchase order, credit card or bank transfer on our online store.

Please note that we do not charge VAT as we are an educational establishment.

Payments will be accepted subject to availability. If making payment by credit card, please forward the transaction receipt by email to Barbara Steel.

Mon 29 Jun - Fri 3 Jul 2020

Terms and conditions

  • Cancellations notified in writing ten working days before the event; we charge a cancellation fee of 35 per cent of the standard rate. If we have already received payment we refund 65 per cent of the full fee.
  • Cancellations within 10 working days before the event; We charge these at the full rate and do not give refunds.
  • If no written notice of cancellation is received, no refund can be made.
  • The University of Surrey reserves the right to cancel any event. In this case, the full fee will be refunded unless a mutually convenient transfer can be arranged. Details of event changes or cancellations are available by phoning +44 (0)1483 686040.
  • Delegates can make a provisional registration for a course by telephone or email. However bookings are only acknowledged formally once payment has been received.
  • Substitutions from the same company may be made following consultation with the Continuing Education Manager.
  • The University reserves the right to cancel any course on the grounds of insufficient numbers or for other reasons beyond our control. In this case the full fee will be refunded unless a mutually convenient transfer can be arranged.
  • Registrations cannot be accepted without a valid purchase order, credit card payment or cheque.
  • Proof of payment.
  • Registrations must come with a valid purchase order, credit card payment or cheque.

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Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
University of Surrey