Overview of Spacecraft Systems and Missions Tutorial
Dr. Joel C. Sercel
Length: Full-day

This condensed one day course will introduce participants to all the systems, subsystems, and major technical disciplines involved in the design and development of a space mission. Topics covered include:

  • astrodymamics and mission design
  • space propulsion
  • attitude determination and control
  • space power systems
  • spacecraft thermal control
  • structural design and analysis
  • spacecraft configurations
  • spacecraft computers and information systems
  • systems engineering
  • cost estimation
  • planning

The depth of material coverage is commensurate with a one-day course. Each topic area includes a description of basic concepts and terminology, as well the presentation of a few governing equations. In addition, references are provided, along with suggestions on where to obtain more information and training. Emphasis is placed on what the developer of information systems or software must know to contribute effectively as a member of a space mission and system development team.

About the speaker:

Dr. Joel C. Sercel is the director of Caltech's Laboratory for Spacecraft and Mission Design, a facility and research group dedicated to teaching, tool development, and research in the area of collaborative design of space missions and systems. Sercel, also a Caltech lecturer in aeronautics, was previously at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where he had a 15 year career in diverse areas including space technology development, system engineering, software development, and management. Sercel led the development of the architecture and system engineering of JPL's end-to-end mission and space flight system engineering process including the integration of conceptual design with scenario development, system engineering, manufacturing, assembly, test, integration, and management processes. Job elements included system engineering of processes, analytical models, design tools, information systems, facilities, training programs, and process documentation to ISO-9000 standards. He performed propulsion system integration and design studies for the following programs or projects: space station, Space Exploration Initiative, Discovery, Magellan, New Millennium DS-1. He also led the development of low cost project trades models for technology prioritization studies in JPL's Office of Space Science and Instruments and for advanced mission studies in support of the Discovery Program and the Outer Solar System Exploration Program.

In addition to his work at JPL and Caltech, Sercel is the founder of ICS Associates (Integrated Concurrent Systems), a corporation dedicated to helping teams of engineers to increase the productivity with which they collaborate in the development of complex systems. He is a leading innovator in advanced engineering processes and tools, process system engineering, integrated team leadership, applications of information systems technology to enhance productivity, design tool development, technology development, and space mission-system engineering and technology. Through ICS Associates, he teaches professional development courses in Integrated Concurrent Engineering (ICE), project planning and cost estimation, and Space System and Mission Design. ICS Associates customers include Boeing, Raytheon Systems, Space Systems Loral, TRW, the United States Air Force, United Technologies, and the University of Southern California.

Sercel received his PhD and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology, with a thesis on the experimental and theoretical investigation of the Electron-Cyclotron-Resonance (ECR) plasma accelerator. His undergraduate degree was in engineering physics from the University of Arizona.