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Unit of study_

AERO9760: Spacecraft and Satellite Design

This course aims to introduce the students to the engineering aspects of spacecraft and mission design, covering the space environment and spacecraft sub-systems, including thermal control, power systems, attitude decision and control system, tracking, telemetry and telecommand, and on-board data handling.


Academic unit Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic
Unit code AERO9760
Unit name Spacecraft and Satellite Design
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Xiaofeng Wu,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment logbook
Each student is asked to keep a logbook to track his/her work in the group.
30% Multiple weeks 13 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment group assignment Space Mission Design and Analysis
Assignment 1 will focus on the use of space systems engineering design.
20% Week 05 5 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO2
Assignment group assignment Assignment 2
Assignment 2 will focus on the spacecraft bus subsystems.
20% Week 09 4 weeks.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO3 LO2
Assignment group assignment Assignment 3
Assignment 3 will focus on the small satellite and its missions.
20% Week 13 4 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO2
Presentation group assignment Group presentations
Group presentation
10% Week 13 1 day
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
group assignment = group assignment ?
  • Log book: The log book is a recording mechanism that is of paramount importance to the engineer. It provides information about design process that the engineer went through and results in sufficient detail that another engineer can continue on with the work just by going through the log book. You are required to keep a neat and thorough log book of your engineering design activities which will be assessed during the practicals. At the beginning of the practicals, the log book will be assessed for the preparation; At the end of the practicals, the log book will be assessed for the design process and results.
  • Assignment: There are 3 assignments. These assignments are group based assignment submissions. The focus of these assignments is to communicate your design philosophy as well as results. Assignment 1 will focus on the use of systems engineering design with particular focus on the development of a “requirements analysis”. Assignment 2 will focus on the spacecraft bus subsystems. Assignment 3 will focus on the small satellite and its missions. 
  • Group presentation: One of the main objectives of this subject is to promote and develop team-working and communication skills within an engineering context. You will be asked to deliver a group presentation. 

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 02 Systems engineering Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 03 Space environment Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 04 Single event effects and mitigation Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 05 On-board data handling and computing Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 06 Power Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 07 Tracking, telemetry and command Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 08 TTC and communication Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 09 Attitude determination and control system Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 10 ADCS and propulsion Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 11 Thermal system Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 12 Structures, integration and test Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 13 Presentations Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Space Mission Analysis & Design
  • LO2. System Engineering Aspects of Designing Spacecraft
  • LO3. Spacecraft Bus Subsystems & Design;
  • LO4. Applications of Small, Low-Cost Satellites
  • LO5. Space Environment & its Effects;
  • LO6. Ability to evaluate contribution to a project of both one-self and peers.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
This is a systems engineering course. The students will develop a space mission and analyze it in groups. They will provide a project report. As most students have no knowledge in space engineer, the course will be based on normal lectures.


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