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Course Detail

Course Name Space Flight Mechanics
Course Code 19AEE452
Program B. Tech. in Aerospace Engineering
Year Taught 2019


Unit 1

Elements of Conics – The n-Body Problem and Reduction to Two-Body Problem – Types of Orbits – Conservation of Energy and Angular Momentum in Orbits – Spherical Trigonometry – Geocentric-Equatorial, HeliocentricEcliptic, Right Ascension Declination, Topocentric-Horizon and Perifocal Co-Ordinate Systems and Transformations between them – Classical Orbital Elements.

Unit 2

Orbital Elements Determination from Position and Velocity at a Point – Determining Position and Velocity from Orbital Elements – Orbit Determinations from a Single Radar Observation, Three Position Vectors and Optical Sightings – Ellipsoidal Earth Model: Geodetic and Geocentric Latitudes – Ground Trace of Satellites – Solar and Sidereal Times – Precession of The Equinoxes – Low and High Earth Orbits: Orbital Perturbations due to Oblateness of Earth – Orbital Maneuvers: General Coplanar Orbit Transfer, Hohmann Transfer, Simple Plane Changes to an Orbit.

Unit 3

Time-Of Flight and Eccentric Anomalies for Elliptic, Parabolic And Hyperbolic Orbits – Kepler’s Problem and Solution Algorithm – Gauss Problem: General Methods of Solution – Intercept and Rendezvous with Examples – Ballistic Missile Trajectories: Effect of Earth Rotation – Interplanetary Trajectories: Spheres of Influence and the Patched Conic Approximation, Synodic Periods – Satellite Attitude Dynamics: Torque Free Motion, Stability of Torque Free Motion, Spin Stabilization, Gyroscopic Attitude Control, Gravity Gradient Attitude Control.

Objectives and Outcomes

Course Objectives

  • To understand the basic conservation laws of specfic energy and specific angular momentum and apply them to orbital maneuvers.
  • To understand orbital elements and solve two body problems in orbital mechanics.
  • Study various applications of orbital mechanics such as intercept, rendezvous, planetary motions and interplanetary trajectories

Course Outcomes

  • CO1: Understand classical orbital elements, physical principles of orbital motion and various coordinate systems used.
  • CO2: Orbit element determination from position and velocity vectors. Know effects of perturbations to orbits, know ground trace and basic orbital maneuvers
  • CO3: Know Kepler and Gauss problem, ballistic missile trajectories, interplanetary and lunar trajectories and basics of satellite attitude dynamics

CO – PO Mapping



CO1 3 3 2 2 2 3 3 2
CO2 3 3 2 2 2 2 3 3 2
CO3 3 3 2 2 2 3 3 3 2

Textbook / References


  • Roger R Bate, Donald D Mueller, Jerry E White And William W Saylor, “Fundamentals of Astrodynamics,” 2nd edition, Dover, 2015.
  • Marshall H Kaplan, “Modern Spacecraft Dynamics and Control,” Wiley, 1976.


  • Howard Curtis, “Orbital Mechanics for Engineers and Scientists,” 3rd edition, Elsevier, 2010.
  • Marcel J. Sidi, “Spacecraft Dynamics And Control: A Practical Engineering Approach,” Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Evaluation Pattern

Assessment Internal External
Periodical 1 (P1) 15
Periodical 2 (P2) 15
*Continuous Assessment (CA) 20
End Semester 50
*CA – Can be Quizzes, Assignment, Projects, and Reports.

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