SD2900 Fundamentals of Spaceflight 7.5 credits

Rymdteknikens grunder

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.

  • Education cycle

    Second cycle
  • Main field of study

    Mechanical Engineering
  • Grading scale

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

Course offerings

Autumn 19 for programme students

  • Periods

    Autumn 19 P1 (7.5 credits)

  • Application code


  • Start date


  • End date


  • Language of instruction


  • Campus

    KTH Campus

  • Tutoring time


  • Form of study


  • Number of places

    No limitation

  • Planned timeslots

    P1: A1, B1, C1, F1, A2, C2, F2, G2. more info

  • Course responsible

    Gunnar Tibert <>

  • Teacher

    Gunnar Tibert <>

  • Target group

    Open for: TAEEM, TTEMM, TSUEM och TIPUM

    CDEPR, CFATE,CMAST,CMATD, CTFYS från årskurs 3

  • Part of programme

Autumn 18 for programme students

Intended learning outcomes

The overall learning objectives of the course are that you should:

  • on the approved level, be able to apply fundamental principles in order to explain the governing dynamics of spaceflight, with emphasis on rocket dynamics and basic orbital mechanics,
  • on the honors level, be able to derive, relate and develop mathematical models of spaceflight, with emphasis on launcher trajectories, two-body orbital mechanics, relative orbital motion and low-thrust orbit transfer,
  • in a collaborative setting, be able to plan a geocentric space mission on a conceptual level, including elements such as determination of suitable trajectories, the number of stages required, and the approximate energy and mass budget,
  • in a collaborative setting, be able to write an engineering paper, to prepare and perform an oral presentation, and to deliver and receive constructive feedback on such work, and
  • improve your ability to work and learn in a culturally mixed group, and to identify your own strengths and areas of personal development in the interaction with others.

Course main content

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.  


The course is primarily intended for students in the Aerospace Engineering Master’s programme (including exchange students). For as long as room is available, other students are also welcome to participate.


William E. Wiesel, Spaceflight Dynamics, 3rd ed., Aphelion Press, 2010.

The book can be purchased in the student expedition at KTH Aeronautical and Vehicle Engineering, Teknikringen 8.


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

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).

Offered by

SCI/Aeronautical and Vehicle Engineering


Gunnar Tibert <>

Supplementary information

Replaces SD2816.

Add-on studies

SD2905 Manned Spaceflight

SG2805 Spacecraft Dynamics

MJ2246 Rocket Propulsion

EF2240 Space Physics

EF2260 Space Environment and Spacecraft Engineering


Course syllabus valid from: Autumn 2013.
Examination information valid from: Autumn 2013.