MAE2406 - Orbital mechanics and spaceflight dynamics - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Chris Davies


Associate Professor Ralph Abrahams
Dr Daniel Edgington-Mitchell

Unit guides



  • First semester 2018 (On-campus)


TRC2201, MEC2401


This unit introduces second year aerospace engineering students to the concepts of time, space, coordinate systems, particles, rigid bodies, forces, work, energy and Newton's Laws of Motion. Students will be taught the fundamentals of kinematics and kinetics of rigid bodies and systems of particles and to carry out dynamic analysis to balance systems with rotating and reciprocating masses. These fundamental principles will then be applied to the study of orbital bodies and spacecraft, including multi-body problems, trajectory planning and orbital transfers.


On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Solve engineering problems involving: displacement, velocity and acceleration, simple vibrating systems of masses, springs and dampers, and analysis of simple engineering mechanisms.
  2. Analyse forces, power and energy losses involved in practical engineering applications.
  3. Apply fundamental physical principles to analyze and predict the motion of orbital systems.
  4. Describe and plan basic orbital maneuvers and mission trajectories for spaceflight vehicles.


Continuous assessment: 40%

Examination (2 hours): 60%

Students are required to achieve at least 45% in the total continuous assessment component and at least 45% in the final examination component and an overall mark of 50% to achieve a pass grade in the unit. Students failing to achieve this requirement will be given a maximum of 45% in the unit.

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. Independent study may include associated readings, assessment and preparation for scheduled activities. A unit requires on average three to five hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study