Search programme

​Use the search function to search amongst programmes at Chalmers. The study programme and the study programme syllabus relating to your studies are generally from the academic year you began your studies.

Syllabus for

Academic year
RRY016 - Space science and techniques
Rymdfysik och rymdteknik
Syllabus adopted 2019-02-07 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPWPS
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Electrical Engineering, Engineering Physics

Teaching language: English
Application code: 29118
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: D+

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0112 Examination 6,0 c Grading: TH   6,0 c   13 Jan 2021 pm J   09 Apr 2021 am J,  23 Aug 2021 pm J
0212 Project 1,5 c Grading: UG   1,5 c    

In programs



Arto Heikkilä

  Go to Course Homepage


General entry requirements for Master's level (second cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Course specific prerequisites

Basic knowledge in multivariable calculus and electromagnetic field theory.


After the course, the students will be able to understand the complexity of spacecraft systems, the space environment and its effect on spacecraft, and how spacecraft are used for scientific and commercial purposes. Students will be able to perform basic calculations in spacecraft systems engineering (especially orbit and link budget calculations), and be ready for deeper studies of various aspects of space science and technology.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

  • Give examples of applications of space techniques and discuss its role in the society. Discuss ethical aspects, and consequences of the digitalization of society, from a space techniques point of view. 
  • Describe which subsystems a satellite has and what they are used for.
  • Analyse satellite orbits using Kepler's laws and related equations.
  • Sketch and analyse a ground track.
  • Perform azimuth and elevation calculations.
  • Explain perturbations on orbits and how they are used or counteracted for practical orbits.
  • Describe how a rocket works and give advantages and disadvantages with different types of rockets.
  • Use the rocket equation for orbit transfer calculations.
  • Perform a link budget calculation.
  • Describe the motion of a charged particle in an electromagnetic field.
  • Define a plasma and explain the concepts plasma oscillations and Debye shielding.
  • Describe the near-Earth environment.
  • Describe space environmental effects on spacecraft and spacecraft design.
  • Perform simple calculations related to space environmental effects, in particular Single Event Effects. 
  • Calculate the equilibrium temperature of a satellite.
  • Perform reliability calculations on simple systems. Give examples of methods to increase the reliability of a spacecraft system.
  • Use computerbased tools to study ground track and space environmental effects on spacecraft.


The course includes: * Keplers laws and related equations, orbit perturbations, GEO, LEO, sunsynchrounous orbits, spherical trigonometry, satellite tracking, ground tracks, orbits for different applications. * Launch vehicles and Rockets (basic rocket principles, different types of rockets and propulsion systems, launch sequence) * Satellite subsystems (platform and payload, spin and three-axis stabilisation, electrical power, attitude and orbit control, telemetry, tracking and command, temperature control, reliability) * Satellite communication (antennas, receivers and transponders, noise, link budget) * Applications (e.g. telecommunication, remote sensing, navigation, astronomy, aeronomy) * Motion of charged particles in electromagnetic fields, basic plasma physics (definition of plasma, plasma oscillations, Debye shielding) * The Sun, solar activity, and the Sun's influence on the space environment and on spacecraft. * The near-Earth environment: the magnetosphere and plasmas, the radiation belts and cosmic rays, the upper atmosphere and ionosphere, auroras. * Environmental effects on spacecraft: plasma effects, ionizing radiation, neutral particles and drag, micrometeoroids and orbital debris, electromagnetic radiation and thermal effects, weightlessness and satellite attitude disturbances, space weather.


The course consists of lectures, exercises, and compulsory group work (project).


- Spacecraft Systems Engineering by Fortescue, Swinerd & Stark (eds.) 4th ed.,

- compendium and/or handouts.

Examination including compulsory elements

Group work (project) and related report, and a written exam.

Page manager Published: Mon 28 Nov 2016.