Space & Trade Spaces online module successfully launched

On a journey from Sputnik and the Moon Race to today’s commercial SpaceX operations, Professor H. Pat Artis from Virginia Tech, USA, brought the world of commercial space vehicles to HAW Hamburg in winter semester 2021/22. During the eight-week online course 24 HAW Hamburg aeronautical engineering students learnt about the design challenges of boosters built to insert payloads into Earth’s orbit and developed their own vehicle design.

Seminarraum mit Leinwand und Studierenden, die einer Online-Vorlesung folgen

Virginia Tech Online-Modul Space & Trade Spaces

The weekly three-hour classes introduced the students to the ‘tyranny of the rocket equation’ and to launch vehicle design, stress analysis, stability and control. In addition to the theory, the course included a design problem selected from current commercial space industry headlines; specifically, the German government’s plan for a North Sea spaceport. As a way of strengthening the national space programme, the objective would be to insert small payloads into polar and sun synchronous orbits.

Student teams were tasked to determine the delta-V required to reach the specified orbits from the sea-based launch site and then estimate the velocity losses/gains from propulsive efficiency, gravitation loss, aerodynamic drag, and rotational velocity of the earth at the launch latitude. Based on this delta-V budget, the students evaluated staging alternatives, propulsive systems, configuration layout, vehicle structure, flight loads, and vehicle dynamics and controls. During the final two weeks, each team developed a conceptual vehicle design for placing a 51.5 kg payload into a 300 km sun synchronous orbit.

Many of the 24 students who participated in the course want to work in the field of aerospace after graduation and saw it as a way of broadening their expertise and getting an insight into a field that is not taught at HAW Hamburg. For Muhammad Iqbal Aziz the vision goes further: ‘In the next two to three decades, space travel will no longer be "fancy". Tourism around the moon will become a possibility. Perhaps our grandchildren will have a school trip around the moon with their classmates and teachers. It is very possible that in 50 years we will develop a colony or civilisation in Mars. Better be prepared for it.’


Prof. H. Pat Artis
Virginia Tech

Ingrid Weatherall
International Office
'HAW goes USA'