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Courses of Instruction

The USC Catalogue is the official source of information on USC's academic programs. In the event that information on this website conflicts with that in the Catalogue, the Catalogue must be considered to be authoritative.

In March 2005, the Astronautics courses were given the new prefix ASTE (Astronautical Engineering) as well as new numbers. The courses are labeled below with the new prefixes and numbers; the old prefixes and numbers are shown in parentheses.

Schedule of Classes for This Semester
Schedule of Classes for Next Semester

ASTE 101L Introduction to Astronautics (4 units)
Gateway to the major in Astronautical Engineering. Introduction to space, space exploration and the space business. Elements of orbits, spacecraft systems, rocket propulsion, and communications. Laboratory: Introduction to graphics, computation and simulation.
Fall 2006 Course Website

ASTE 280 Astronautics and Space Environment I (3 units)
Solar system, two-body problem, orbits, Hohmann transfer, rocket equation, space environment and its effects on space systems, sun, solar wind, geomagnetic field, atmosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere. Prerequisite: MATH 226, PHYS 152L.

ASTE 301ab Thermal and Statistical Systems (3 units, 3 units)
Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; kinetics of atoms, molecules, and photons; compressible fluid dynamics. Prerequisite: MATH 245, PHYS 153L.
Fall 2006 Course Website

ASTE 330 Astronautics and Space Environment II (3 units)
Basics of spacecraft dynamics, Euler's equation, introduction to space plasma physics, spacecraft in plasma, radiation effects on space systems, space instrumentation: detectors, analyzers, spectrometers. Prerequisite: ASTE 280, PHYS 153L.
Fall 2006 Course Website

ASTE 420 Spacecraft Design (3 units)
Spacecraft mission design, space environment, attitude determination and control, telecommunications, propulsion, structures and mechanisms, thermal control, power systems, launch systems and facilites. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing in engineering or physics.

ASTE 445 Molecular Gas Dynamics (3 units)
Physical description of kinetic nature of gas flows; distribution function; introduction to the Boltzmann equation; free-molecular flow; surface and molecular reflection properties; Monte Carlo flow calculations. Recommended preparation: AME 309 or ASTE 301b.

ASTE 470 Spacecraft Propulsion (3 units)
Introduction to rocket engineering. Space missions and thrust requirements. Compressible gas dynamics. Propellant chemistry and thermodynamics. Liquid- and solid-fueled rockets. Nuclear and electric propulsion. Prerequisite: senior or graduate standing.

ASTE 480 Spacecraft Dynamics (3 units)
Two-body motion, rigid-body motion, attitude dynamics and maneuvers, spacecraft stabilization: gravity gradient, reaction wheels, magnetic torques, thruster attitude control. Prerequisite: senior standing.

ASTE 501ab Physical Gas Dynamics (3 units, 3 units)
a: Molecular structure; radiative processes; microscopic description of gas phenomena; translational, rotational, vibrational, and electronic freedom degrees; particle energy distributions; microscopic representation of thermodynamic functions. b: Kinetic concepts in gas physics; thermal non-equilibrium; intermolecular potentials; transport of radiation and particles in high-temperature gas; dissociation and ionization equilibrium; energy relaxation. Prerequisite: a: graduate standing or departmental approval; b: ASTE 501a.
Fall 2006 Course Website

ASTE 520 Spacecraft System Design (3 units)
System components; vehicle structure, propulsion systems, flight dynamics, thermal control, power systems, telecommunication. Interfaces and tradeoffs between these components. Testing, system reliability, and integration. Prerequisite: graduate standing in engineering or physics.
Class website

ASTE 523 Design of Low Cost Space Missions (3 units)
Reviews all aspects of space mission design for practical approaches to reducing cost. Examines "LightSat" mission experience and potential applicability to large-scale missions. Prerequisite: graduate standing in engineering or science; recommended preparation: ASTE 520 or some experience in space engineering.

ASTE 527 Space Exploration Architectures Concept Synthesis Studio (3 units)
Programmatic/conceptual design synthesis/choice creation methods for complex space missions. Aerospace system engineering/Architecture tools to create innovative projects. Evaluated by faculty/industry/NASA experts. Prerequisite: graduate standing in engineering or science; recommended preparation: ASTE 520 or experience in space industry.

ASTE 535 Space Environments and Spacecraft Interactions (3 units)
Space environments and interactions with space systems. Vacuum, neutral and ionized species, plasma, radiation, micrometeoroids. Phenomena important for spacecraft operations.

ASTE 541 Partially Ionized Plasmas (3 units)
Review of microscopic processes involving particles and radiation, and their impact on properties of high-temperature gases and plasmas in local thermal equilibrium and non-equilibrium.

ASTE 545 Computational Techniques in Rarefied Gas Dynamics (3 units)
Particle-based computational simulation methods for rarefied, high-speed flows. Molecular collision kinetics. Monte Carlo direct simulation and related techniques. Recommended preparation: ASTE 501a and skill in FORTRAN programming.

ASTE 552 Spacecraft Thermal Control (3 units)
Spacecraft and orbit thermal environments; design, analysis, testing of spacecraft thermal control system and components; active and passive thermal control, spacecraft and launch vehicle interfaces. Prerequisite: graduate standing in science or engineering.

ASTE 554 Spacecraft Sensors (3 units) 
In the approval process...

ASTE 553 Systems for Remote Sensing from Space (3 units)
The operation, accuracy, resolution, figures of merit, and application of instruments which either produce images of ground scenes or probe the atmosphere as viewed primarily from space. Prerequisite: graduate standing in engineering or physics.

ASTE 556 Spacecraft Structural Dynamics (3 units)
Applied analytical methods (vibrations of single and multi degree of freedom systems, finite element modeling, spacecraft applications); requirements definition process; analytical cycles; and design verification. Prerequisite: graduate standing in science or engineering.

ASTE 556 Liquid Rocket Propulsion (3 units)
In the approval process...

ASTE 572 Advanced Spacecraft Propulsion (3 units)
Nuclear, electric, sails, and far-term propulsion systems. Overviews of nozzles, heat transfer, electromagnetics, rarefied gases, and plasma physics. Analysis of electrothermal, electrostatic and electromagnetic thrusters. Prerequisite: graduate standing in engineering or science; recommended preparation: ASTE 470.

ASTE 580 Orbital Mechanics I (3 units)
Physical principles; two-body and central force motion; trajectory correction maneuvers; position and velocity in conic orbits; Lambert's problem; celestial mechanics; orbital perturbations.

ASTE 581 Orbital Mechanics II (3 units)
Theory of perturbations of orbits; numerical methods in orbital mechanics; satellite dynamics; averaging methods; resonance; mission analysis. Prerequisite: ASTE 580.

ASTE 583 Space Navigation: Principles and Practice (3 units)
Statistical orbit determination: (weighted) least squares, batch and sequential (Kalman) processing, illustrative examples; online ephemeris generation: potentially hazardous asteroids, comets, satellites; launch: vehicles, payloads, staging. Prerequisite: graduate standing in engineering or science; recommended preparation: ASTE 580.

ASTE 584 Spacecraft Power Systems (3 units)
Introduction to solar arrays, batteries, nuclear power sources, mechanical energy storage. Application theory of operation, practical considerations. Subsystem topologies and performance. Design optimization techniques. Prerequisite: graduate standing in engineering or science.

ASTE 585 Spacecraft Attitude Control (3 units)
Review of attitude dynamics, gravity gradient stabilization, attitude stabilization with a spin, attitude maneuvers, control using momentum exchange devices, momentum-biased stabilization, reaction thruster control. Prerequisite: AME 451 or EE 482; recommended preparation: a course in dynamics.

ASTE 586 Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics (3 units)
Dynamics of systems of particles and rigid bodies; spacecraft attitude systems; attitude maneuvers (spin, precession, nutation, etc.); attitude stabilization and attitude determination; simulation methods.