ME4500 Advanced Space Flight Mechanics and Orbital Robotics

This course covers advanced topics in Space Flight Mechanics and Orbital Robotics. The class is designed to provide fundamental engineering and mathematical tools necessary to analyze and design emerging advanced Space Flight missions, such as: Distributed Space Systems, Constellations and Swarms, On-orbit Assembly, Servicing and Manufacturing (ASAM), Space Debris Remediation. Focus of the course is given to modeling the relative orbital and attitude mechanics and advanced guidance and control aspects of co-orbiting artificial satellites. Topics include relative orbital mechanics and orbital perturbations; linear and non-linear proximity maneuver dynamics and control in SE(3); formulation of relative motion using orbital elements; low-thrust propulsion for formation flying; untraditional space flight maneuvers such as those exploiting differential drag. The course teaches rigorous mathematical analysis methods. Numerical simulation experiments will be used to reinforce the learning and enable to case-study realistic mission scenarios.  This course covers recent advances of Astronautical Engineering and emphasizing contemporary issues of high interest to DoD, NASA and US Space community at large.

Cross Listed Courses



Orbital Mechanics SS3500, OR Classical Physics OR Engineering Mechanics OR Approval by Course Coordinator



Lecture Hours


Lab Hours


Quarter Offered

  • Fall
  • As Required


  1. 1) The student will acquire knowledge of mathematical methods to analyze realistic advanced space flights applications of high interest to DoD (as listed in the syllabus)
  2. 2) The student will acquire understanding of selected critical problems and capabilities offered by the considered space flight applications
  3. 3) The student will learn skills and gain experience on performing numerical simulations to support the analysis of specific space flight application scenarios
  4. 4) The student will acquire critical insight enabling independent and creative judgment on emerging space flights applications and capabilities offered by them