EF2260 Space Environment and Spacecraft Engineering 6.0 credits

Rymdmiljö och rymdteknik

Spacecraft in Earth orbits are exposed to an environment quite different from that encountered on the ground or in the lower atmosphere. This puts certain requirements on the design of spacecraft systems. Aspects of the space environment important for spacecraft engineering are discussed in the course. These include energetic particles and ionising radiation, micrometeorites, spacecraft-plasma interaction and thermal conditions. General principles of spacecraft engineering are overviewed, and two systems are treated in more detail – thermal control and power. Effects of ionising radiation on electronics and other materials are discussed. The course also discusses typical measuring instruments carried on spacecrafts.  

  • Education cycle

    Second cycle
  • Main field of study

    Electrical Engineering
    Engineering Physics
  • Grading scale

    A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Course offerings

Autumn 19 for programme students

Autumn 18 for programme students

Intended learning outcomes

After the completed course you should

-          develop a knowledge of the environments spacecraft may encounter in various orbits around the Earth, and the constraints this places on spacecraft design. 

-          have an understanding of the spacecraft/plasma interaction processes

-          have a general understanding of the physics behind the radiation effects on various materials

-          know the radiation tolerance ranges for major components, and assess the radiation exposure for a given orbit

-          understand basic operation principles underlying the thermal control system and the power systems in spacecraft

-          be able to roughly dimension the systems for a given orbit

-          have understanding of measurements principles in space

Course main content

The course consists of lectures and projects.

Lectures cover the following topics: Overview of satellite design and onboard systems. Space environment, Sun, magnetosphere, radiation belts. Radiation effects on materials: physical principles, dose assessment, tolerances. Spacecraft/plasma interaction, charging. Corrosion, micrometeorites.

There will be three projects in the course. You will work in groups on the projects. Each group will concentrate on two projects. The projects are estimated to take about 1 week of work each. Each group prepares a written report and a presentation. The results are presented as a short talk at a seminar at the end of the course.

One project is designing a power supply system for a spacecraft in a given orbit. You will work from estimating the power needs the spacecraft for given application. By making some measurements on the actual solar panel elements and batteries you will dimension these elements for the spacecraft and design a regulation system.

The second project is designing thermal control system for a spacecraft. You will assess the heat balance for a given orbit, make some measurements on material properties and work towards a thermal design of the spacecraft.

The third project will concentrate on the radiation effects, primarily on the electronics. You expose some components to radiation and assess the effects, investigating the dose for permanent damage. This will be compared to the radiation levels encountered by spacecraft around the Earth.


Space Physics (EF2240) or equivalent.

For single course students: documented proficiency in English B or equivalent.

Recommended prerequisites

Space Physics (EF2240) or equivalent.

For single course students: documented proficiency in English B or equivalent.


Meddelas vid kursens start.


  • PRO1 - Project, 1.5, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • PRO2 - Project, 1.5, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • TEN1 - Examination, 3.0, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Requirements for final grade

Project reports (2x1.5 credits), and one oral examination (3 credits).

Offered by

EECS/Electrical Energy Engineering


Per-Arne Lindqvist <lindqvist@plasma.kth.se>


Mykola Ivchenko <nickolay@kth.se>


Course syllabus valid from: Spring 2019.
Examination information valid from: Spring 2019.