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SD2900 Fundamentals of Spaceflight 7.5 credits

Space technology plays a key role in modern society, enabling space exploration, Earth observation, telecommunication and navigation services, weather forecasting and much more. The purpose of this course is that you should develop a basic working knowledge in this field, so that you are well prepared for more advanced courses and are able to actively participate in a space related context. The course mainly focuses on your conceptual understanding, your ability to tackle an engineering task, and your ability to interact with others.

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For course offering

Autumn 2024 Start 26 Aug 2024 programme students

Application code


Headings with content from the Course syllabus SD2900 (Spring 2022–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

In order to create a natural and creative learning environment, a peer learning approach is used in the course. You will therefore belong to a student team that meets on a regular basis to discuss essential topics in the course and to perform project work. You will treat topics like rocket propulsion and performance, launcher dynamics, basic orbital mechanics, relative orbital motion and orbital maneuvers. The technical work in the course mainly consists of a project assignment, typically related to a topic of current interest in the space industry. This means that the focus of the course can differ somewhat from one year to the next.  

Intended learning outcomes

After completing course the student should be able to

  1. Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the scientific basis and proven experience in spaceflight, as well as insight into current research and development work.
  2. Demonstrate basic methodology and understanding of spaceflight, including launcher dynamics, orbital mechanics, manoeuvres and relative motion in orbit.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to critically, independently and creatively identify, formulate and manage a geocentric space mission with a holistic view.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to analyse and critically evaluate various technical solutions for a geocentric space mission
  5. Demonstrate the ability to plan and, with adequate methods, carry out a feasibility study of a geocentric space mission within given frames and to evaluate this work.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to critically and systematically integrate knowledge from previous courses in order to analyse, assess and deal with complex phenomena, problems and situations in spaceflight, even with limited information.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to model, simulate, predict and evaluate spacecraft behaviour from launching to rendezvous with other spacecraft, even with limited information.
  8. Demonstrate the ability to develop a geocentric space mission, including technical solutions, with regard to people's conditions and needs and society's goals for economic, social and ecologically sustainable development.
  9. Demonstrate ability for teamwork and collaboration in culturally mixed groups.
  10. Demonstrate ability to clearly present and discuss engineering conclusions and the knowledge and arguments behind them, in dialogue with different groups, orally and in writing, in international contexts.
  11. Demonstrate the ability to make judgments with regard to relevant scientific, societal and ethical aspects when choosing technical solutions for a geocentric space mission.
  12. Demonstrate insight into the opportunities and limitations of spaceflight, its role in society and people's responsibility for how it is used, including social and economic aspects as well as environmental and work environment aspects.

For the highest grades, the student should also be able to

    13. Demonstrate in-depth methodology and understanding of spaceflight.

    14. Demonstrate the ability to identify his or her need for additional knowledge in spaceflight.

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Completed degree project on Bachelor level.

English B / English 6

Recommended prerequisites

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Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

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


  • KON1 - Conceptual Test, 3.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • PRO1 - Project Assignment, 4.0 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • TEN1 - Optional Oral Dissertation, - credits, grading scale: P, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade

Approved oral and written presentation of project work (PRO1; 4.0 credits) and approved written test or equivalent oral accomplishment (KON1; 3.5 credits).

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course room in Canvas

Registered students find further information about the implementation of the course in the course room in Canvas. A link to the course room can be found under the tab Studies in the Personal menu at the start of the course.

Offered by

Main field of study

Mechanical Engineering

Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

SD2905 Manned Spaceflight

SG2805 Spacecraft Dynamics

MJ2246 Rocket Propulsion

EF2240 Space Physics

EF2260 Space Environment and Spacecraft Engineering


Gunnar Tibert (