Course Details


Course Summary

This course highlights the essential subsystems of the International Space Station, Space Shuttle and Commercial Crew Vehicles, which includes the following: Structures and Mechanisms, Propulsion and Motion Control, Communications and Tracking, Thermal Control, Electrical Power System, Environmental Control and Life Support, and GN&C.  These subsystems are critical to building manned spacecraft. The major human spacecraft requirements, functions and integration trades for each area are addressed with respect to performance, design margin and cost. In addition, alternative design approaches for each essential subsystem are provided. The course will enable attendees to evaluate current designs and propose manned spacecraft design concepts of the future.

Course Materials

Each attendee receives extensive notes and reference materials.

Who Should Attend

Crewed space vehicle design engineers, system integrators, analysts, operators and program managers. Mission planners and flight directors. Human space travel entrepreneurs and government decision makers. Astronauts.

What You Will Learn

The function of each major system and a fundamental understanding of how to keep humans alive in the space environment. Design and integration of systems into an operational spacecraft. How to develop and evaluate a preliminary space station design concept. Understand the major trades in each area as well as the different design philosophies and alternatives.

Course Outline

1. Space Station Overview.

A historical prospective of Space Station development including Salyut, Skylab and MIR is described. The overall purpose, objectives, organization and elements of the International Space Station (ISS) are outlined. Operational concepts that define the "traffic model," or when Earth-To-Orbit Vehicles (ETOVs), such as Shuttle, progress and Soyuz can rendezvous with ISS, are highlighted.

2. Essential Systems for Manned Spaceflight.

The major subsystems (Structures and Mechanisms, Propulsion and Motion Control, Communications and Tracking, Thermal Control, Electrical Power System, Environmental Control and Life Support, and GN&C), critical to building manned spacecraft, are described.

3. Structures and Mechanisms.

The purpose of structures and mechanisms, as well as the assembly of various ISS elements, truss segments and mechanisms, is identified. Primary and secondary structures are differentiated and the design approaches for each are described. In addition, the ISS micrometeoroid orbital debris protection system is discussed.

4. Guidance, Navigation and Control (GN&C).

The six primary GN&C functions, which include guidance, state determination, attitude determination, pointing and support, translational control and attitude control are described. A comparison between the US GN&C system and the equivalent Russian Orbital Segment Motion Control System is made, as well as how these systems are integrated and work together on ISS. Alternative GN&C systems are highlighted.

5. Communications and Tracking (C&T).

An overview of the United States On-Orbit Segment (USOS) communication and tracking systems and subsystems is provided. The major C&T functions are given, as well as the system capabilities, constraints and redundancies of the C&T subsystems. In addition, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) C&T capabilities are discussed along with the integration of these two systems on board ISS.

6. Propulsion and Motion Control.

The ISS on-board propulsion and motion control system is described, as well as how it accomplishes the major functions of attitude control, stabilization, translational control and re-boost. Alternative propulsion and motion control systems are discussed.

7. Electrical Power System (EPS).

An overview of how the electrical power system provides power generation, storage, distribution, conversion and supporting functions is provided along with the similarities and differences between the US and Russian systems. EPS interfaces to other systems are highlighted along a discussion on alternative electrical power generation options.

8. Thermal Control System (TCS).

The ISS thermal control system functions, components and operational capabilities are presented along with the various interfaces with other ISS systems. US and Russian internal and external TCS systems are compared.

9. Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS).

The major functions of the ISS environmental control and life support system and each of its subsystems (Atmosphere Control and Supply, Air Revitalization, Fire Detection and Suppression, Water Recovery and Management, and Temperature and Humidity Control) are described. US and Russian ECLSS systems and capabilities are compared, along with the trade-offs between "open-loop" and "closed-loop" life support.

10. Space Station Operations.

The six types of ISS mission activities (Russian Vehicle Docking, ISS Re-boost, Quiescent Operations, Shuttle Docking, Expedition Crew Handover and Deferred Assembly) are described. ISS program Operational Agreements are highlighted, along with an overview of the ISS planning process.



James Peters, Ph.D., has over 25 years of engineering systems design and management experience. He has worked on crew safety and operations for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Jim spent 13 years as the Manager of Space Shuttle Upgrades at Boeing. He was principal scientist and engineer on Orbital Space Plane and International Space Station programs. Dr. Peters’ engineering areas of expertise include large systems integration, advanced research and development, spacecraft design and operations, environmental controls, life support systems, structures and mechanisms, payload integration as well as vehicle assembly and launch operations. He is author of the Spacecraft Systems Design and Operations published by Kendall-Hunt in 2004 and he has completed “Return to Flight: Inside NASA's Space Shuttle Missions in the Wake of the Columbia Disaster” where he served as the Shuttle Debris Integration Chair responsible for correcting the debris problems that lead to the Accident.  Dr. Peters was a Mission Specialist candidate for the Astronaut Class of 2000 and served four years active duty with the U.S. Navy as a nuclear submarine officer stationed on the USS Hyman Rickover. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, followed by advanced degrees from the University of Alabama, Huntsville and the University of Maryland.