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SPST200 - Introduction to Space Studies

Course Details

Course Code: SPST200 Course ID: 4955 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This course is designed to introduce the student to a variety of subjects, which together comprise the overall field of space studies. This includes the space environment, astrodynamics, launch vehicles, spacecraft, space operations, commerce, space law, policy, telecommunications, space navigations, remote sensing, space resources, astronomy, and space life sciences. All of these topics will be addressed with a very broad brush, as the student will study them more in-depth during later courses in the aerospace studies degree program. Instruction is primarily through readings (both textbook and online), along with weekly classroom discussions. As the first space studies course in the AS and BS degree in Space Studies program, this course also focuses on research and writing methods appropriate to space studies. The web readings listed under "Web Resources" will discuss critical elements of research, writing, style and formatting. The Turabian style (also known as the Chicago style) is required for all courses in this program. The course will introduce the student to a variety of research sources that will be useful in future space studies courses. (Prerequisite: MATH111)


Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
02/24/20 - 07/31/20 08/03/20 - 09/27/20 Summer 2020 Session I 8 Week session
03/30/20 - 09/04/20 09/07/20 - 11/01/20 Summer 2020 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • LO-1: Become familiar with the APUS Space Studies Program
  • LO-2: Explain why learning about space is important
  • LO-3: List the elements of a space mission
  • LO-4: Analyze the contributions of early space pioneers
  • LO-5: Understand the Earth’s atmosphere and where space begins
  • LO-6: Evaluate the challenges posed by micrometeoroids, orbital debris, the radiation environment, charged particles, and galactic cosmic rays to successful space operations
  • LO-7: Discuss the concept of gravity
  • LO-8: Explain properties of the Sun and its role in our Solar System
  • LO-9: Describe our place in the Universe
  • LO-10: List the six classical orbital elements (COEs)
  • LO-11: Explain basic orbital maneuvers such as the Hohmann Transfer
  • LO-12: Discuss why governments pursue space activities
  • LO-13: List the seven main principles that guide the daily use of space
  • LO-14: Analyze the impact of current changes in the Space Studies Field.

The grading will be based on eight graded forum discussions, two exams (midterm and final), several assignments, and three research papers (see table below for evaluation criteria).


There will be eight forum discussions during the course. Most of the forums will require some research and analysis of specific topics (in some cases, you’ll be able to choose from a list of topics).

Your original post must be submitted by Wednesday, 11:59 PM Eastern Time (unless you make prior arrangement with the instructor). At a minimum, you will be required to respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts by Sunday, 11:59 PM ET (if the course has five or fewer total students, the minimum requirement is to respond to one of your classmates), as well as monitoring any responses on your own discussion thread. Your responses should include at least one of the following:

  • A discussion on something you learned from the post
  • Additional information on the post
  • A question about the information in the post

Any direct quotations or paraphrasing must be properly cited, using the APA format. Your initial post should be at least 250 words, and the responses to your classmates should be at least 100 words. Your responses must be substantive, not simply saying "good post" or "I agree." Each discussion will count for 3% of the final grade (for a total of 24% of your course grade). The rubric used in grading the forums is listed with each forum. Be sure you are familiar with the standards.

Please try not to post at the last minute, as this hinders your classmates' ability to do their work on time.


There will be a midterm exam in week 4 and a final exam in week 8. The exams will be composed of several multiple choice and true-false questions, as well as at least one short answer question (your short answers should typically be at least a couple of sentences or a short paragraph, and make sure you don’t copy and paste your answers from a website or the lesson material). The midterm and final exams are worth 12% and 13% respectively.

Choose the best answer in the multiple choice and true-false questions. The short answer questions will be “manually” graded, and your final quiz and exam scores will be recorded in the gradebook.

Research Papers/Essays

There are three short research papers due during the course, in weeks 2, 5, and 7. Paper requirements:

  • Length: 3 -5 pages, not including title page, tables, figures, or bibliography
  • Double-spaced
  • Use 1” margins
  • Use 12-point font (Calibri or Arial preferred)
  • Must be uploaded in MS Word format

Each paper must have at least four sources, at least one of which must be a primary source (Wikipedia is not an acceptable source for your essays; you may use it to help guide you to further information, but it may not be used in the paper itself). Links to websites with information on researching and writing research papers are provided in the Lessons area.

Your papers must have citations included, in either the APA format. The essays should be uploaded in the Assignments area of the online classroom. If you are unfamiliar with this process and need assistance, contact the instructor.

The rubric used in grading the essays can be found in the Assignments area.

NameGrade %
Forums 24.00 %
Forum Week 1 3.00 %
Forum Week 2 3.00 %
Forum Week 3 3.00 %
Forum week 4 3.00 %
Forum Week 5 3.00 %
Week 6: Space Policy Research Paper Outline 3.00 %
Forum Week 7 3.00 %
Forum Week 8 3.00 %
Assignments 24.00 %
Week 1: Astronomy Research Paper Outline 6.00 %
Week 3: The Space Environment 6.00 %
Week 4: Aerospace Research Paper Outline 6.00 %
Week 8: Course Flow Chart 6.00 %
Midterm Exam 12.00 %
Midterm Exam 12.00 %
Final Exam 13.00 %
Final Exam 13.00 %
Essays/Research Papers 27.00 %
Week 2: Astronomy Research Paper 9.00 %
Week 5: Aerospace Science Research Paper 9.00 %
Week 7: Space Policy Research Paper 9.00 %

Required Texts: None

Links to the required weekly readings are included in each week’s Lesson.

Highly Recommended (but not required): Understanding Space; Jerry Sellers.

Book Title:Something New Under the Sun: Satellites and the Beginning of the Space Age - eBook available through the APUS Online Library; Please visit to locate the course eReserve.
Author:Gavaghan, Helen
Unit Cost:$24.29
Book Title:Frontiers of Space Exploration, 2nd Ed-E-book provided inside the APUS Online Library; Please visit to locate the course eReserve.
Publication Info:ABC-CLIO
Author:Launius, Roger
Unit Cost:$51.78

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.