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Space Systems Engineering Fundamentals

One could argue that systems engineering is the most important of all the engineering disciplines used in developing and fielding space systems.

At least, it’s fair to say that space systems engineering is one of the most challenging areas of systems engineering. Why? Because there are so many engineering disciplines involved. While it’s critically important to get each individual piece of a space system or space mission designed and built correctly, it’s just as important to ensure that all those individual pieces work together as intended.

Systems operating in space are complex pieces designed to perform specific missions for a specified design life. Because having technical expertise is essential, in charge of making these complex pieces are space engineers.

Space engineers often have a particular focus on quality management aspects that are managed from product specifications, testing and verification.

The primary tasks of a space engineer are to design and analyze aircraft and spacecraft. Space engineers need to understand the principles of physics including aerodynamics, motion and propulsion, as well as fluid mechanics and other theoretical and practical topics.

Space engineers typically specialize in either aeronautical engineering or astronautical engineering. Aeronautical engineers focus on aircraft, whereas astronautical engineers focus on spacecraft. Some common jobs for aerospace engineers include aircraft or spacecraft designers, satellite and missile designers and builders, mechanical engineers, computer hardware engineers and electrical engineers.

Overall, a space systems engineer’s job is not all that different from what a general systems engineer does – but in space systems the environment generates unusual constraints that introduces unique challenges for systems engineers.

For example, a terrestrial systems engineer working on a big server rack that uses a lot of power could easily get a very big fan to blow the heat away. But in space, it’s not so easy. Because space is a vacuum, the space systems engineer needs to find other ways to dissipate heat, such as through conduction or radiation.

There are also other phenomena a space engineer deals with such as bit flipping, believe caused by a cosmic ray striking computer memory at just the right time and flipping a bit, turning a 0 into a 1 or vice versa. Things can get into a state that regular systems engineer couldn’t think possible.

For the space systems engineer, there are unique challenges working with expensive, exotic materials where a gram here or a few degrees of temperature variance matter significantly against the backdrop of space.

Space is, in fact, the ultimate harsh environment. Things shake around a lot on launch and face extreme temperatures once they get in orbit.

A career in space systems engineering can be challenging but seldom boring. That’s because space engineers are often doing things for the very first time, like landing on a comet or laying the foundations for manned voyages to Mars.

The space system engineer is the force behind space systems.

Space Systems Engineering Fundamentals Course By Tonex

Space Systems Engineering Fundamentals is a 2-day course introducing participants to the fundamental principles of systems engineering applied to development of space systems.

Participants learn about project and systems engineering management, concept definition, stakeholders management, developing ConOps, trade studies, requirements analysis and engineering, system architecture and interface definition, system synthesis, engineering design, integration, verification and validation, operations/sustainability and system retirement (DEMIL).

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

 

Space Systems Engineering Fundamentals

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