Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics

Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics
Program Details

Space Systems
Current as of: 04/21/2016

Degree Type: MS

Program Description

The Graduate Space Systems (GSS) program is designed to provide officers with a broad knowledge of space systems engineering and space science. Education in the fundamentals of these areas will increase a students& rsquo effectiveness in planning, executing, and evaluating space systems and operations. Each student completes a research thesis on some aspect of space systems (engineering, science, or operations).

The Space Systems graduate is ready to participate actively in organizations responsible for the selection, planning, management, operation, and evaluation of space systems for the DoD. Full-time quota students enter as a class in September and are scheduled to graduate in March, approximately 18 months later. Most graduates will receive a Master of Science (Space Systems) however students with adequate background may pursue an alternate degree as long as the GSS requirements detailed below are satisfied.

There are three different Academic Specialty Codes (ASCs) associated with this program: 4TSY Space Systems OYRY Space Operations, General OYRI Space Operations, Information Operations. The OYRI designation is the code used for Vigilant Scholar students (selected by AFSPC for the Vigilant Scholar program). All students must complete the GSS core, while the specialty sequence is tailored to meet ACS requirements.


Education Objectives

  • Space Programs: Be knowledgeable about current and past US and international space programs. Understand the objectives of these programs and how they fit into military operations. Understand the basic technical means through which these objectives are achieved. Required courses are  ASYS 530 Introduction to Space Programs and Operations or  ASYS 535 Military Space Systems and Applications (note: ASYS535 is restricted to US only with a TS/SCI clearance, all others should enroll in ASYS530).
  • Spaceflight Dynamics: Understand the physics of orbital mechanics and what impact it has on orbital mission operations. Be able to calculate orbital maneuvers and understand the basics of orbit control in the presence of perturbations. Understand the basics of torque-free spacecraft attitude dynamics. Required course is MECH 532 Introduction to Spaceflight Dynamics.
  • Satellite Communications: Understand modern communication principles with particular emphasis on applications to satellite and space communication systems including modulation, signals, multiplexing, demodulation, multiple access, coding, look angles, satellite hardware, earth station hardware, and link analysis. Required course is EENG 571 Satellite Communications.
  • Space Environment: Understand the physics of radiation, particles, and general conditions encountered in space. Understand spacecraft thermal equilibrium, orbit decay, spacecraft charging, space-to-ground communications, atmospheric chemistry, Van Allen belts, and solar phenomena. Required course is PHYS 519 Space Environment.
  • Remote Sensing: Attain understanding of the remote sensing process with an emphasis on visible light and infrared systems. Understand the physics of interaction of light with matter, atmospheric absorption and scattering, radiometry, optical systems, spectral and spatial resolution and imaging, and electro-optical detectors. Required course is PHYS 521 Space Surveillance.
  • Spacecraft Engineering: Be knowledgeable of the design issues related to complex space systems. Understand the key elements and subsystems of important classes of space systems. Gain experience with the systematic approach necessary to effectively design space systems through a group design project. Required course is  ASYS 631 Spacecraft Systems Engineering.

Program requirements and detailed information

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