Student making a point in class

Learn the basic principles and practices of space systems engineering.

EMEN 5830
Fundamentals of Systems Engineering (same as ASEN 5188)

This is a fundamental course for aspiring systems engineers who will be employed in the Aerospace Engineering Field. This course will discuss case studies from space missions and the operation of satellites.   Specifically, this course will focus on small spacecraft known as 3U and 6U configurations.

The course covers basic principles and practice enabling engineering students to appreciate the field of space systems engineering while majoring in one of the academic engineering disciplines. The case studies and guest lecturers will illustrate and amplify the basic systems engineering principles. 

This course is set up as an introductory graduate space systems engineering course for engineers and working professionals that have limited industry experience who may wish to become systems engineers.

Essentially all engineering tasks are part of a larger system.  This introductory course will allow you to see how your engineering tasks are integrated into the larger system.  Additionally, this course will help you to better understand when system level requirements drive the design of your subsystem in ways that may not make sense without seeing the big picture. 

This one-semester course will touch on the following major systems engineering topics:

  • Examples of engineering major complex systems.  Case studies will go into details of the design of space systems. An emphasis is placed on smaller spacecraft.

  • Design risk as it relates to the design of complex space systems. Lectures will focus on successful as well as failed missions.

  • The role of research and development in addressing complex designs.

  • The space environment as it pertains to the design of space missions.

  • Human space flight and its challenges on the role of the systems engineer.

  • Principal stages in a systems life cycle. 

  • The concept (mission) development stage and concept validation.

  • Engineering design, test and evaluation

  • The role of design reviews and quality assurance (AS 9100) in the design of space missions.

Note that students will be divided into small teams (5-6 students) and will prepare a conceptual design review presentation for a small spacecraft.  The student teams will present their conceptual design during the last (two) classes of the semester.

  • Junior level standing or instructor consent required

The following textbook is required: Peter Fortescue at al. “ Spacecraft Systems Engineering”, 2011 Edition, Wiley, ISBN: 9780470750124

Weekly reading assignments from the book will be identified in class.   Furthermore, mid term exam questions will be based on the reading assignments from the textbook.

Additional reading assignments will also be taken from David Harland and Ralph Lorenz: “Space Systems Failures, 2005 Edition, Springer, ISBN: 0-387-21519-0.  This book is available on-line from the University Library, details on access will be provided in class.

Daniel MoorerDr. Daniel Moorer
Faculty Director • Professor for the Engineering Management Program
Office: ECOT 426

Dr. Daniel Moorer, Professor of Engineering Practice, joined the EMP in the Fall, 2012 semester as the faculty member responsible for the Project Management and Business Simulation coursework in the EMP. He also continues to lead the Wacari Group, a Boulder, Colorado company whose charter is to support the development of innovative and paradigm-breaking product concepts that benefit the community.

Dr. Moorer was a career Army officer with assignments in South Korea, Germany, United States, and the Middle East where, in 1991, he was Operations Officer for a tank battalion during Operation Desert Storm. Two years later, he earned a Masters Degree in Space Systems and taught National Security Policy and Space Operations at the US Army Command and General Staff College. After retiring from the military, he conducted research at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics where he modeled Earth’s radiation belt dynamics and associated space weather. Later, at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., he led several teams working on space physics applications and in 2002, was appointed Director of Business Development.

In 2007, recognizing a large pool of untapped engineering and scientific potential in the Boulder-Denver area, he founded Wacari Group. Dr. Moorer is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and completed his doctorate in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Avatar iconMr. Frank Buzzard


Frank spent a distinguished 30-year career with NASA at the Johnson Space Center retiring in 2003 after leading the Columbia Investigation Task Force.  He then served as Barrios Technology, Inc. Program Manager for the International Space Station (ISS) Mission Integration Contract from 2003-2005.  During his NASA career Mr. Buzzard served as Chief Engineer of the Space Shuttle, Chief Engineer of the ISS, and ISS Program Director/Senior System Integration Manager at NASA HQ.  His NASA awards include the Distinguished Service and Exceptional Service (2) Medals.  In addition to his NASA experience, Frank served as a US Army helicopter pilot for 5 years.  He currently leads Frank Buzzard Consulting, Inc., an aerospace consulting business based in Bryan/College Station, Texas.