Postgraduate taught 

Aerospace Engineering MSc

Space Flight Dynamics M ENG5082

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Engineering
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This is an introduction to the methods of space flight dynamics, demonstrate how these methods are applied to real space systems and demonstrate the use of space flight dynamics in space systems engineering.


2 lectures per week

Excluded Courses





90% Written Exam; 10% project output (computer code) and report

Main Assessment In: December

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to:

■ introduce the methods of space flight dynamics;

■ demonstrate how these methods are applied to real space systems;

■ introduce the use of spaceflight dynamics in space systems engineering.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ explain and formulate Kepler's two-body problem;

■ identify typologies of orbits, compute and convert orbital parameters, momentum, energy;

■ relate position and time on elliptic orbits, solving Kepler's time equation;

■ convert between Cartesian and Keplerian parameters of an orbit;

■ compute impulsive orbital manoeuvres, orbital transfers (Hohmann, parabolic, bi-elliptic, inclination changes, phasing manoeuvres), and their cost in terms of delta-v and propellant mass;

■ identify and assess other transfer techniques, namely gravity assist manoeuvres and low-thrust transfers;

■ identify main orbital perturbation sources and compute their effect on the orbit.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must attend the degree examination and submit at least 75% by weight of the other components of the course's summative assessment.


Students should attend at least 75% of the timetabled classes of the course.


Note that these are minimum requirements: good students will achieve far higher participation/submission rates.  Any student who misses an assessment or a significant number of classes because of illness or other good cause should report this by completing a MyCampus absence report.