Module code: EEE2043

Module Overview

Expected prior learning:  Learning equivalent to Year 1 of EE Programmes.

Module purpose:  Space engineering provides a foundation for human access and utilization of space and has shown growing importance to global economy. The module offers basics of space engineering and mission design. Students will obtain an introduction on mission analysis and design tools, instrumentation and space technologies.

For those students on the undergraduate “space” pathways, the module acts as an introduction to the space engineering and mission design, and the themes are picked up in the compulsory Level 6 modules: EEE3040 Space Engineering and EEE3039 Space Dynamics and Missions, where they are examined in more detail. These modules, together, provide the background and context for the detailed individual Level 7 modules concerning different aspects, systems and applications of spacecraft: e.g. EEEM044 RF Systems and Circuit Design; EEM031 Satellite Communications Fundamentals; EEEM033 Satellite Remote Sensing; EEEM059 Space Avionics;.EEEM009 Advanced Guidance, Navigation and Control; EEEM032 Advanced Satellite Communications Techniques; EEEM012 Launch Vehicles and Propulsion; and EEEM057 Space Environment and Protection. Students may choose their own selection from these advanced Level 7 modules, according to their interests or future career choices.


Module provider

Computer Science and Electronic Eng

Module Leader

UNDERWOOD Craig (Elec Elec En)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): 16

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 83

Lecture Hours: 15

Tutorial Hours: 12

Laboratory Hours: 15

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 15

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes the following:

Basic Elements of a Space Mission

Introduction to space missions, fundamentals of spacecraft subsystems, introduction to launch vehicles, mission operations, mission management, space system engineering and architecture. Space Mission lifecycle and sustainability. Development of space programmes, international context and capabilities. Mission applications such as communications, remote sensing, navigation and space science (Sustainability, Global and Cultural Intelligence)

Space Mission Design Fundamentals

Introduction to space system engineering process, introduction to space mission objectives and requirement definition, derivation of space mission design budgets (mass and power), system design constraints – matching the approach taken in industry (Employability)

Environmental Impacts on Design

Brief assessment of pre-launch, launch and space environments and effects on space mission design. Understanding the physics and design impact of vibration, loading, forces, accelerations, EMC, vacuum, thermal and radiation disturbances on spacecraft design. Space debris effects and mitigation, end-of-life disposal, planetary protection leading to sustainable space operations. (Sustainability)

Overview of Spacecraft Payload and Subsystems

Fundamentals of spacecraft definition, design aspects, physics and basic work principles of payload and major subsystems including power, command and data handling, attitude and orbit control, structures and mechanisms, propulsion, thermal and communication. Introduction to spacecraft dynamics, adaptation of Newton’s laws for launch vehicles, introduction to launch vehicle mechanics (forces, torques, stress, acceleration, vibrations) and electronics design for key spacecraft bus. Practical lab experiments and exercises. 

System Engineering Approach to Spacecraft Design

Mission/spacecraft design requirements, system constraints and design process. System and mission level design of spacecraft payload and bus examples. Integration and interfaces. Design mass, power and link budgets. Practical lab exercises using satellite simulator.

The practical lab work is a major part of the module and allows the student to work in a small team on real spacecraft hardware (the EyasSAT). The students will be asked to systematically strip down and test each system to verify its performance using computer-base command, control and telemetry tools (Digital Capabilities) – exactly as they would do working on a real space mission in industry (Employability). They will be assessed both on their individual practical skill via a short time-limited lab test exercise (Resilience) and also on their ability to communicate their findings in a professional, clear, concise and complete manner (Resourcefulness, Employability).

Mission Design Case Study

Phrase-A mission design example of a remote sensing satellite mission across its entire lifecycle from design to disposal. Here the student will need to exercise Resoucefulness in putting together a realistic mission design given all that they have learned in the module and from library and internet information sources.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment LAB REPORT ON A SPACECRAFT SIMULATOR 20
Examination 2 HOUR CLOSED BOOK EXAM 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy for this module is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate the learning outcomes. The written examination will assess the knowledge and assimilation of terminology, concepts and theory in space engineering, as well as the ability to analyse problems and apply trade-off study principles in space mission design. The laboratory experiments will evaluate the acquired technical skills and understanding of spacecraft subsystems.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • The practical lab work gives the practical experience of Learning Outcome 3,  and the student’s progress is assessed both by a practical lab test and a written report on what they have done and what they have learned (Learning Outcome 4).

  • Spacecraft Simulator Lab Report: A technical report summarizing results of experiments on five spacecraft subsystems due Tuesday Week 10.

  • Spacecraft Simulator Lab Test: A test to create and execute a sequential operational checklist with the satellite model, taking place in Week 10 class.

  • Closed-book written examination which principally evaluates the student’s progress against Learning Outcomes 1 and 2.

 Any deadlines given here are indicative. For confirmation of exact date and time, please check the Departmental assessment calendar issued to you.

Formative assessment and feedback

For the module, students will receive formative assessment/feedback in the following ways.

  • During lectures, by question and answer sessions

  • By means of unassessed tutorial problem sheets (with answers/model solutions)

Module aims

  • To introduce the design elements and process of space missions.
  • To introduce the functions and design process of the spacecraft bus and payload.
  • To provide hands-on experience of spacecraft bus design through lab-based experiments on satellite simulators.
  • The module also aims to provide opportunities for students to learn about the Surrey Pillars listed below

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Apply a system engineering approach to space mission design. KC C6
002 Design the basic configuration of the spacecraft bus in terms of its subsystems and payload KC C5
003 Have gained practical experience of handling power, communication, data handling, thermal, and attitude control subsystems of spacecraft simulators based on the EyaSAT satellite model. KC C7
004 Have demonstrated an ability to analyse the results of their practical work and to communicate these clearly in a written report PT C17

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to provide high quality student learning experience of the most up-to-date knowledge and practical experience that will enhance and develop their skills for independent academic study, digital media literacy, and working in professional contexts.

Learning and teaching methods include 3 hours lecture or lab per week.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: EEE2043

Other information

This module has a capped number and may not be available to exchange students. Please check with the International Engagement Office email:

Surrey’s Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, Resourcefulness and Resilience.

This module contains substantial laboratory work (EyasSAT Lab), which builds up resourcefulness in terms of the student finding the best ways to measure, validate and present in written form, the performance of each sub-syste of the EyasSAT spacecraftcooperative working with fellow team members individual responsibility and exercises digital capabilities through commanding and operating the spacecraft via a computer based tlemetry and telecommand system.

This module addresses the “5 pillars” as follows:

  • Sustainability – discusses space debris and mitigation – cleaning up the space environment and planetary protection.
  • Global and Cultural Intelligence – discusses the role of political rivalries in stimulating space exploration from the USA/USSR in the context of the Cold War to today’s emerging Asian superpower rivalries – e.g. China/India.
  • Digital Capabilities are touched upon in terms of discussions of digital/OBDH systems and are practiced in the practical laboratory work through commanding and acquiring telemetry data and also in using digital tools (e.g. spreadsheets and word processors) to analyse and present data and to produce a professional report.
  • Employability – Throughout, the industrial context of the module content is given through real examples and the skills/knowledge developed are aligned very closely with industrial needs.
  • Resourcefulness and Resilience – the module discusses how to build a team to achieve a successful space mission and the approaches and skills needed including working under significant pressures of time, budget,, etc. This is effectively rehearsed in the practical work, where the students work in teams on space hardware (the EyasSAT spacecraft).

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Electronic Engineering with Space Systems MEng 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering with Space Systems BEng (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering BEng (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.