675.601.81 - Fundamentals of Engineering Space Systems I

Space Systems Engineering
Spring 2024


The effective development of space systems is predicated on a firm understanding of the foundational technical and systems engineering components necessary to both comprehend the design task and formulate an appropriate solution. For engineers and technical managers seeking to develop this working knowledge and associated skills, this course will provide an overview of the key elements comprising space systems and an analytic methodology for their investigation. With a strong systems engineering context, topics will include fundamentals on astrodynamics, power systems, communications, command and data handling, thermal management, attitude control, mechanical configuration, and structures, as well as techniques and analysis methods for remote sensing applications. In addition, a number of supplemental topics will be included to provide further breadth and exposure. This is the first course of a two-semester sequence that features a combination of instruction from practitioner subject matter experts, and a team design project.

Expanded Course Description

Prerequisite: Systems Engineering for Space (675.600), or the equivalent, and an undergraduate degree in physics or engineering.


Profile photo of Brian Bauer.

Brian Bauer


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Mario Lento

Course Structure

All course materials, assignment submission, and grading will be managed in the course Canvas site available through: https://canvas.jhu.edu.  

Course content is organized by module, and all lectures and assignments can be accessed by selecting the appropriate module from the Canvas Modules page. Course materials are organized into sections:

All lectures are available in mp4 format for streaming or download and closed captioning is available.  Course lecture slides are available as downloadable PDF with the lecture videos. If you are using a screen reader and would prefer a Microsoft Word or PowerPoint version of the assignments or lecture slides, please contact head instructor, Brian Bauer.

Students are encouraged to preview all sections of the module before starting. Most modules follow the schedule below with exceptions noted on the Course Outline page. Students should regularly check the Calendar and Announcements for assignment due dates. All modules are released at the beginning of the course to allow greater flexibility for students. The modules begin on dates specified in the Course Outline.


12:00 AM
(Day 1)

Module begins

9:00 PM
(Day 7)

Office Hour with module lecturer and main instructor

9:00 AM
(Day 10)

Problem Sets or Team Project Deliverables due
Please note the 9AM ET deadline to allow students in all time zones the full weekend to work

9:00 AM
(Day 17)

Solution Sets released
No Problem Sets accepted after this date


Course Topics

Course Goals

Students will learn the elements and engineering analysis methods for describing and conceptualizing a space system architecture, then apply that knowledge at both the subsystem and system level as part of a Team Project spanning both FESS I and FESS II.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)


There is one required textbook for both 675.601 and 675.602, available from multiple sources: Space Mission Engineering (SME).

Wertz, J. R., Everett, D. F., & Puschell, J. J. (2011). Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD. Microcosm Press.

Textbook information for this course is available online through the appropriate bookstore website: For online courses, search the MBS website at http://ep.jhu.edu/bookstore. Note: FESS is listed under the site designation Online.

Other Materials & Online Resources

Selected chapters from the course text and other papers and publications are available through the course eReserves link.

Required Software

Students will need to have access to the following software programs to complete the course:

AGI Systems Tool Kit (STK) version 12.X

A Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tool capable of producing 3D models. 

In addition to full professional packages that may be available to you through your workplace like Creo, SolidWorks, NX, and Catia, there are several others tools/versions available for free:

Limited-trial/demo full version:

Unlimited free basic version:

Student Coursework Requirements

Course Grading

Course grading will consist of three basic categories with all assignment and deliverable submission links and due dates posted in Canvas.

Self-Check Quizzes (5% of final grade calculation)

Each student is responsible for carefully reviewing all course lecture content and readings. Self-Check Quizzes are provided for each module to promote thought about the lecture topic and gauge student understanding.

Participation in other course interactions including, discussions, office hours, and team projects are also important elements to demonstrating understanding and improving the collective learning process.

Problem Sets (45% of final grade calculation; 5% per problem set)

Problem sets will be quantitative in nature and typically aligned with the associated module content. We are all working professionals and have developed a Problem Set submission/late policy that gives you some flexibility while keeping the class on track.

Any 3 of the problem sets may be submitted up to 1 week late without penalty. Additional late problem set submissions will be penalized per the table below. Solution sets will not be released until the late submission deadline, one week after original due date.

Late AssignmentsAssignment Grade PenaltyImpact to Final Grade
1 - 30%0%

No credit will be given for late submissions once the associated solution set is released (1 week from due date).

Each assignment will have specific point allocations using a partial-credit methodology. Please review the Problem Set Grading Guidance document in the Canvas Course Information module for further details. No credit will be provided for numerical answers without any supporting work.

Course Team Project (50% of Final Grade Calculation)

A course Team Project will be assigned in the first module of the course. Team assignments will be made by the head instructor once all students have completed the Team Assignment Survey. The project deliverables and their associated milestones for submittal are specified in the Team Project Description (TPD) document, including a breakdown of the respective point values for interim and final project deliverables.

Individual student contributions to each deliverable shall be clearly identified using the Team Organization and Responsibilities (TOR) tool provided in the Canvas Team Project Module.

All project deliverables are due according to assignment due dates in Canvas. Exceptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis, contingent upon receiving prior approval from the head instructor.

For Interim Project deliverables, the maximum eligible grade will be reduced by 10% per day late, where the penalty may be specifically assessed against delinquent team (member) components (provided all other components are submitted on time).

For Final Project deliverables and briefings, no materials will be accepted after the due date. In addition, all team members must present their contribution to the project in order to receive individual credit, where alternate pre-recorded methods are acceptable in select cases (contingent upon instructor approval). No credit will be given if a presentation is not delivered on the scheduled date in the course Calendar.

The Team Project grading is designed to reflect both the team and individual student performance. The Team Organization and Responsibilities (TOR) tool, presentation, and team peer review are used to ensure each student's grade represents their contribution to the Team Project.

Expected Workload

The expected student workload has been tailored for this graduate course offering, with the approximate breakdown provided in the table below. Please note that your experience will vary from week-to-week depending on how the material aligns with your engineering background.



Typical Load (hr)

Total (hr)

Readings (Average 13 pp/week)

13 x 1 hours


Problem Sets

9 x 6 - 15 hours


Team Project: Interim Deliverables Preparation

6 / 12 hours


Team Project: Midpoint Review Deliverables Package Preparation & Presentation

40 hours




151 hours

Grading Policy

Student assignments are due according to the assignment due dates in Canvas. Problem Set grades will typically be posted within one week after the solution sets are released (the late submission deadline). 

Final grades will be determined by the following weighting:



% of GRADE

Self-Check Questions


Problem Sets (9 x 5% each)


Course Team Project (Total)


Project Interim Deliverable #1.1


Project Interim Deliverable #1.2


Midpoint Review Deliverables Package


Overall Team Contributions


Team Peer Review and Lessons Learned



A grade of A indicates achievement of consistent excellence and distinction throughout the course—that is, conspicuous excellence in all aspects of assignments and Team Project.

A grade of B indicates work that meets all course requirements on a level appropriate for graduate academic work. These criteria apply to both undergraduates and graduate students taking the course.

EP uses a +/- grading system (see Grading System in the Graduate Programs catalog).

Score RangeLetter Grade
100-97= A+
96-93= A
92-90= A−
89-87= B+
86-83= B
82-80= B−
79-77= C+
76-73= C
72-70= C−
69-67= D+
66-63= D
<63= F

Academic Policies

Deadlines for Adding, Dropping and Withdrawing from Courses

Students may add a course up to one week after the start of the term for that particular course. Students may drop courses according to the drop deadlines outlined in the EP academic calendar (https://ep.jhu.edu/student-services/academic-calendar/). Between the 6th week of the class and prior to the final withdrawal deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with a W on their academic record. A record of the course will remain on the academic record with a W appearing in the grade column to indicate that the student registered and withdrew from the course.

Academic Misconduct Policy

All students are required to read, know, and comply with the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) / Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct by Full-Time and Part-Time Graduate Students.

This policy prohibits academic misconduct, including but not limited to the following: cheating or facilitating cheating; plagiarism; reuse of assignments; unauthorized collaboration; alteration of graded assignments; and unfair competition. Course materials (old assignments, texts, or examinations, etc.) should not be shared unless authorized by the course instructor. Any questions related to this policy should be directed to EP’s academic integrity officer at ep-academic-integrity@jhu.edu.

Students with Disabilities - Accommodations and Accessibility

Johns Hopkins University values diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Students with disabilities (including those with psychological conditions, medical conditions and temporary disabilities) can request accommodations for this course by providing an Accommodation Letter issued by Student Disability Services (SDS). Please request accommodations for this course as early as possible to provide time for effective communication and arrangements.

For further information or to start the process of requesting accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services at Engineering for Professionals, ep-disability-svcs@jhu.edu.

Student Conduct Code

The fundamental purpose of the JHU regulation of student conduct is to promote and to protect the health, safety, welfare, property, and rights of all members of the University community as well as to promote the orderly operation of the University and to safeguard its property and facilities. As members of the University community, students accept certain responsibilities which support the educational mission and create an environment in which all students are afforded the same opportunity to succeed academically. 

For a full description of the code please visit the following website: https://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/policies-guidelines/student-code/

Classroom Climate

JHU is committed to creating a classroom environment that values the diversity of experiences and perspectives that all students bring. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Fostering an inclusive climate is important. Research and experience show that students who interact with peers who are different from themselves learn new things and experience tangible educational outcomes. At no time in this learning process should someone be singled out or treated unequally on the basis of any seen or unseen part of their identity. 
If you have concerns in this course about harassment, discrimination, or any unequal treatment, or if you seek accommodations or resources, please reach out to the course instructor directly. Reporting will never impact your course grade. You may also share concerns with your program chair, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, or the Office of Institutional Equity. In handling reports, people will protect your privacy as much as possible, but faculty and staff are required to officially report information for some cases (e.g. sexual harassment).

Course Auditing

When a student enrolls in an EP course with “audit” status, the student must reach an understanding with the instructor as to what is required to earn the “audit.” If the student does not meet those expectations, the instructor must notify the EP Registration Team [EP-Registration@exchange.johnshopkins.edu] in order for the student to be retroactively dropped or withdrawn from the course (depending on when the "audit" was requested and in accordance with EP registration deadlines). All lecture content will remain accessible to auditing students, but access to all other course material is left to the discretion of the instructor.