16.892J | Fall 2004 | Graduate

Space System Architecture and Design


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


  1. Specialists in architecting and designing space systems

  2. Graduate students learning about space system architecting and design

Class Lecture Map

Classes are mapped into a number of 2 hour lectures/seminar discussions.

Course Description

Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor

H-Level Grad Credit

“Space System Architecture and Design” is a lecture, reading and discussion subject on topics in the architecting of space systems. The class reviews existing space system architectures and the classical methods of designing them. The course focuses on use of multi attribute utility theory as a new design paradigm for the space systems when combined with integrated concurrent engineering and efficient searches of large architectural tradespaces. It considers topics such as design of flexibility into the architecture, resolution of uncertainty (technical, economic etc.) in the architectures, and the integration with policy issues and product development issues. The class is an excellent front end for 16.89.

Grading Policy

Written Homework 50%
Class Participation and Reading 50%

It is expected that class reading will be done before each class session.

Learning Objectives

  • Critique existing design and architecture determination methods applied to space systems

  • Use a new framework, and choose and use appropriate new tools, to determine optimal space architectures

  • Explain and model the impact of factors such as uncertainties, policy decisions, and the need for robustness and flexibility on optimal architectures

Measurable Outcomes

  • Explain current space systems architecture methods and their problems and limitations

  • Set up and justify a tradespace analysis using functional system attributes, user utilities, and a scoped and quantified design vector

  • Choose and use appropriate tools for analysis of the tradespace, e.g. several of Quality Function Deployment, Multi-attribute Utility Theory, N-squared or Design Structure Matrix analysis, existing analysis tools and software, and optimization tools and methods

  • Analyze a simple tradespace using the Multi-Attribution Tradespace Exploration framework

  • Identify and estimate the effects of multiple sources of risk and uncertainty

  • Explain concepts of robustness and flexibility

  • Understand and estimate the effects of policy decisions

  • Estimate and explain uncertainty, flexibility, and/or policy effects on a simple tradespace using appropriate tools such as portfolio optimization or real options theory

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2004
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments