675.701.83 - Applications of Space Systems Engineering

Space Systems Engineering
Spring 2024


The ability to effectively apply knowledge and skills to new problems and situations is critical in the development of space systems. Building upon the foundational systems engineering and technical skills developed through prior coursework, this course will introduce further topics related to areas of active exploration and investigation, as well as practical details pertaining to mission formulation and assessment. Classes will be structured to include both information exchange led by subject matter experts from across the community and active group discourse. In addition, a number of topical case studies will be worked by students in both individual and group formats. Students will be asked to explore, in depth, various advanced areas of space systems engineering challenges and share information with each other in online discussions.

Expanded Course Description

The course is composed of online classes and will give students the opportunity to learn from experts in the design and application of space systems as well as current and former U.S. government sponsors. This course provides an overview of technological capabilities and current challenges on space systems design, development and execution. Subject areas and lecture content track current topics of interest. The case study format encourages student participation that includes two case studies, three practicum/analysis assignments, and several mini-case studies as well as online discussions and presentations.


Profile photo of Helmut Seifert.

Helmut Seifert


Profile photo of Patrick Binning.

Patrick Binning


Course Structure

The course materials are divided into weekly modules that can be accessed by clicking Course Modules on the left menu of our course blackboard site. A Course Module may have several sections including the overview, readings, lecture, and discussions. The assignments are accessed on blackboard by clicking on the Assignments link. You are expected to preview all sections of the module before starting your assignment. You should regularly check the Calendar and Announcements for assignment due dates.

Course Topics

Please refer to the Course Schedule/Outline, which you can access by clicking on Syllabus & Course Information on the left menu of our course blackboard site.

Course Goals

By the end of this course, you will have the skills to be able to perform all the tasks listed under the Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) below.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)


Not required.

Other Materials & Online Resources

One of the individual assignments may require purchasing and downloading a copy of a Harvard Business School Case Study. If we decide to use the case study, details will be communicated during the semester.

Required Software

We require the standard set of Microsoft Office products or their equivalent (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). You also need the ability to read Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files, and possibly generate PDF files for your submissions.

We also require that you will acquire a copy of Satellite Tool Kit (we will arrange for a free trial license).

Finally, we may ask you to acquire the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) open source (i.e. free) Core Flight System (cFS). In this case, we will provide full instructions and a video to guide you through the download, installation, and configuration of this software. Depending on your computer and operating system, you may also be required to install a Virtual Machine (we provide instructions for Virtual Box) as well as the Linux (we provide instructions for Ubuntu) operating system.

Student Coursework Requirements

This course is 14 weeks in length and includes individual, and class activities in a weekly cycle of instruction. Please review this course syllabus and the course schedule/outline thoroughly to learn about specific course outcomes and requirements.

Student online attendance of this class is expected. Please talk to the instructors immediately if this will be difficult for you.

This is an online course which means students attend online and asynchronously throughout the week. Modules open Wednesdays at 0:00 o’clock Eastern Time and go through the following Tuesdays at 24:00 o’clock Eastern Time. We expect all students to make every effort to actively view the lectures, review the reading assignments, and work the assignments individually and with their teams. This case-study class requires active participation.

The instructors also know that this is a program designed for working professionals and absences are to be expected. Please let your instructors know ahead of time if you are unable to participate in a particular module. You will be a member of several teams and they are counting on you being up to speed on the course content.

We have three types of coursework assignments and they are:

Grading Policy

Assignments are due according to the dates in the Calendar and Assignments items in the corresponding modules.  The rubrics that we use to grade each assignment are available to you prior to starting the assignment. We will make a best effort to post grades within approx. 10 business days after assignment due dates, but delays are possible due to work load of the instructors.

EP uses a +/- grading system (see “Grading System”, Graduate Programs catalog, p. 10).

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

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.

Numeric scores are converted to letter grades as follows:

98% to 100% = A+
94% to < 98% = A
90 to < 94% = A-
87% to < 90% = B+
83% to < 87% = B
80% to < 83% = B-
70% to < 80% = C
<70% = F

Course Evaluation

Case Studies (30% total; each 15% of Final Grade Calculation)

Two case studies will be assigned. They will be discussed in detail in the corresponding lecture and your results will be due in the assigned class. See the schedule for details as the assignment dates change semester to semester. These will both be team assignments. The instructors will randomly assign students together in teams.

Each case study, as delivered to the instructors shall have the following:

Analysis/Practicum Assignments (30% total; each 10% of Final Grade Calculation)

Three Analysis/Practicum Assignments will be assigned. They will be discussed and/or assigned in a lecture and the final results will be due, presented, and discussed as per the schedule. These will all (three) be team assignments. The instructors will randomly assign students together, and the teams will change for each assignment.

These will be in less detail than the case studies – but shall still make a compelling case for the work required to complete the assignment. For these, only a presentation (in MS PowerPoint or equivalent) is expected.

Mini Case Studies (35% total; each will be 5% of Final Grade Calculation)

Seven mini-case studies will be assigned. Most will be discussed in a course module before they are due.  Most of them will require advanced reading, per the Course Module. During the lecture we will discuss the topic, then discuss the possible results of your upcoming assignment. These will all be individual assignments.

Mini-case studies require preparatory work and a lightly written report in MS Word, or a light presentation in MS PowerPoint, for delivery. Read the assignment instructions for the specific deliverables.

Peer Review on the Team Assignments (5% total of Final Grade Calculation)

We have an anonymous peer review process where your team members will ‘grade’ your participation on the team assignments. You will be a member of a team of 3 to 5 students and complete 5 assignments together. Each team member will anonymously provide feedback on the level of participation of their fellow team members as well as assess his/her own performance. This will be rolled into 5% of your grade.

Finally, please note that the instructors reserve the discretion to also reduce a team assignment grade for a team member if the corresponding peer assessment indicates that the team member did not sufficiently collaborate and put the required effort into the assignment/deliverables.

Course Policies

This course is designed to occur as one of your final core courses for your Space Systems Engineering degree and you should have already taken 675.600, 675.601, and 675.602.

Late Coursework
All assignments are due according to the dates in the Course Outline and Module instructions. Assignments will be considered late if they are received after that time. Your instructors reserve the right to adjust scores downward based on late submissions. On the other hand, your instructors recognize that you are professionals in the workplace and that work and life may present challenges to meeting our timeline. If you are going to be late, please let us know well in advance of the deadline. We will accommodate occasional occurrences. Regular and recurring tardiness will not be accepted.

Without receiving a specific waiver, any assignment received more than two weeks after the deadline will be given a grade of zero (0).

Grade Rebuttals
Our goal is for you to learn about these various topics in space systems engineering. The grade is one indicator of our judgement on your learning. If, after submitting a written assignment you are not satisfied with the grade received, you are encouraged to speak with one of your instructors about the possibility of redoing the assignment and resubmitting it. Permission to resubmit an assignment is at the discretion of the instructors and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Requirements for sending e-mail messages
When you send an e-mail message to the instructor or to another participant in the course, please observe the following guidelines:

If an issue is urgent, please indicate "urgent" within the subject line of the email and we will respond as soon as is practical.

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.