Space Mechanics

Space Mechanics


Satellites have become increasingly important in our daily lives. We are lost without the GPS application on our cell phones or the weather channel's minute-to-minute forecasts. We connect with each other across oceans and mountains with the click of a mouse. We explore the far reaches of space and detect pollution in our own atmosphere.

But what happens to the satellites when they've been launched? How are they repaired or recovered? How are they affected by the sun and moon? Learn the answers to these questions and more in Space Mechanics.


A conferred Bachelor’s degree with an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or better.

ENGR15, and familiarity with MatLab (or another mathematical programming language).

Topics include

  • Orbits of near-earth satellites and interplanetary probes
  • Relative motion in orbit
  • Transfer and rendezvous
  • Decay of satellite orbits
  • Influence of earth's oblateness
  • Sun and moon effects on earth satellites

Course Availability

The course schedule is displayed for planning purposes – courses can be modified, changed, or cancelled. Course availability will be considered finalized on the first day of open enrollment. For quarterly enrollment dates, please refer to our graduate education section.

Course Archived

Winter 2021-22
Stanford School of Engineering