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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: SPST445 Course ID: 3164 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This course evaluates Space Transportation Systems (STS) including manned space flight operations, supporting systems and the Space Shuttle mission, both present and future. Included are manned space flight operations, supporting systems and the Space Shuttle mission, both present and future. A review of Space Shuttle flight profiles, guidance and navigation control, proximity operations and rendezvous and a brief review of hypersonic orbiter aerodynamics are included. Also covered are future STS applications to space station logistical operations, commercial applications and Department of Defense operations. (Prerequisites: SPST200 or SPST300)

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
11/30/20 - 04/30/21 05/03/21 - 06/27/21 Spring 2021 Session I 8 Week session
02/22/21 - 07/30/21 08/02/21 - 09/26/21 Summer 2021 Session I 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to

  • Describe the aerospace history that led to the construction of the U.S. Space Shuttle.

  • Describe the major shuttle systems including the orbiter, the main engines, the external tank, and the solid rocket boosters.

  • Explain the operations involved in a normal space shuttle mission as well as planned abort sequence actions.

  • Identify the operations of the space shuttle infrastructure to include the orbiter processing facility, the vehicle assembly building, launch control, the launch pads and mission control as well as mission planning procedures

  • Analyze the facts of the two shuttle accidents and what possible actions may have prevented these mishaps.

  • Determine future space transportation objectives of commercial space transportation ventures.

Discussion Board/Class Participation (Forums)

Participation with other students in the weekly Forum Discussion Board area of the classroom makes up 35% of your final grade. Your knowledge of readings will be reflected in your ability to actively participate and discuss key course concepts. Your initial response, posted by Thursday, must be at least 250 words, well written, supported, and grammatically correct to be considered for full credit. Responses to at least 3 other classmate’s Initial posts, completed by Sunday, should be at least 100 words. Returning to your own thread to answer questions asked of you is expected. Your Initial post makes up 50% of your Forum grade. Responses and discussion decide the other 50% - participation is key!

Research Paper:

The Space Shuttle program generated a plethora of ground-breaking space technologies (i.e. re-usability, heat shield, orbiting laboratories) and space operations (i.e. mechanical arms, space construction, re-entry profiles, large crews). You must choose ONE revolutionary aspect from the Shuttle program for your research paper.

Your paper should be approximately 8 pages long (not including Cover and Bibliography pages) and include at least five text pages on the selected technology. Use of pictures and diagrams, properly annotated and cited, is expected (pictures/diagrams do not count toward text pages). See the Assignment for more detailed instructions / expectations.

Topics are to be approved by the end of Week 2. As repeat selections of topics are limited, choose early! The Research paper, worth 20% of your final grade, will be due at the end of Week 4.

Group Project:

As a class, we will discuss the possible follow-on programs for the space shuttle. The overall purpose behind this assignment is to research the future of manned space flight while applying the synergistic knowledge of the entire class.

Aspects to discuss include: mission/goals, program design (performance, schedule, cost), crew size/life support, launch type, assembly requirements, reusability, returnability, growth/adaptability, ground support requirements, etc. Sections will have individual ownership with peer review to ensure a homogenous product.

A project handout will be presented in Week 1 describing the conduct of the Group Project, the participation expectations, general and specific guidelines, and grading emphasis. A PowerPoint template will be provided for individual project section development.

Project Deliverables:

  • Mission Requirements and Assumptions (MR/A) – conducted as a group forum. Active participation in mission requirements, project assumptions, and section selection forums is key to success. Graded at the end of Week 3. Worth 10% of your final grade, this activity is graded as a separate Forum.
  • Section Draft – Section Leads, with input from Assists (and others) in section specific threads of the Group Project Forum, will be responsible for creating the PowerPoint section draft due at the end of Week 6. In addition to slide bullets and dialog (Notes section), pictures and diagrams are expected. Worth 20% of your final grade, this activity will be submitted as an Assignment.
  • Section Final – Section Leads, with input from Peer Review, and feedback from their graded drafts, will revise, smooth and submit Section Finals as an Assignment at the end of Week 8. Worth 15% of your final grade.
NameGrade %
Forum's 35.00 %
Forum Week 1 4.38 %
Forum Week 2 4.38 %
Forum Week 3 4.38 %
Forum Week 4 4.38 %
Forum Week 5 4.38 %
Forum Week 6 4.38 %
Forum Week 7 4.38 %
Forum Week 8 4.38 %
Class Project 45.00 %
Section Draft 20.00 %
Section Final 15.00 %
Mission Req / Assumptions 10.00 %
Researchh Paper 20.00 %
Space Transportation Paper 20.00 %

Required Course Textbooks

Space Shuttle

X-15 Extending the Frontiers of flight

Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight

A New Era in Space

Additional Required Readings

Additional lecture material in the form of text and/or video links is located online in the classroom in each week’s lesson.

Book Title:Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Please visit to locate the course eReserve.
Author: No Author Specified

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.