Space & Trade Spaces as a new elective at HAW Hamburg

From the tyranny of the rocket equation and rocket engines to launch vehicle design, stress analysis, stability and control, the new online course with Professor H. Pat Artis from Virginia Tech, USA, is bringing the world of commercial space vehicles to HAW Hamburg. In winter semester 2021/22, aeronautical engineering students can learn about the design challenges of boosters built to insert payloads into Earth’s orbit.

Over a period of eight weeks, Professor Artis will take the students on a journey from Sputnik and the Moon Race to the commercial space operations of SpaceX. Each three-hour module will be a combination of a 90-minute lecture and an assignment to allow the students to apply the theory. The students will be divided into small teams that will compete to deliver the best possible solution to each design challenge.

Professor Artis is one of the key figures in the strategic cooperation between Virginia Tech and HAW Hamburg and he is keen to see it develop further. ‘Having worked with HAW Hamburg exchange students for the past five years in our Air Vehicle Design course, I know they are ready for any academic or design challenge. Moreover, I have also seen the tremendous benefits of the exchange programme for Virginia Tech students who gain a global perspective from their studies in Hamburg. As a child of the space age and having built rockets for the last 60 years, I am excited to share my passion and experience with Hamburg students.’

The course schedule covers the following topics:

Week 1

Launch Vehicles and the Launch Vehicle Design Process

Week 2

Tyranny of the Rocket Equation and Orbital Mechanics

Week 3

Δv Estimation

Week 4

Rocket Engines and Launch Vehicle Performance and Staging

Week 5

Ascent Trajectory Analysis and Optimization

Week 6

Launch Vehicle Structures and Layout

Week 7

Sizing, Inboard Profile, and Mass Properties and Launch and Flight Loads Analysis

Week 8

Launch Vehicle Stress Analysis and Launch Vehicle Stability and Control

Because the course is an introductory one, HAW Hamburg students do not have to have prior knowledge of rocket design, though they should have completed courses in differential equations, statics, dynamics, deformable bodies and material properties. With their background in the aeronautical vehicle design process, they are well-prepared for this elective. As only brief problems are possible in a short course, students will be expected to identify a trade space for each problem rather than delivering a numerical solution.  

Not only will the course be an exciting opportunity to offer a new field of expertise to HAW Hamburg students, it will also be recognised as a 2 ECTS elective ("Seminar 2") that counts towards their aeronautical engineering degree in Hamburg. Professor Dragan Kozulovic says, ‘We are extremely excited about this new course and very grateful to Pat Artis for making it possible. It is another important building block in the development of the strategic partnership between Virginia Tech and HAW Hamburg.’

The course is financed with ISAP* funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). ‘The corona pandemic has brought student and faculty exchange to a temporary halt, but at the same time it has introduced new ideas that would have seemed too complicated two years ago,’ Ingrid Weatherall adds. ‘While the primary focus of the strategic partnership continues to be on facilitating a semester abroad, this new online course is an excellent opportunity to make Virginia Tech expertise available to a larger number of HAW Hamburg students.’

Click here for the detailed programme schedule and information on how to register.

Text: Ingrid Weatherall, International Office, ‘HAW goes USA

* ISAP: Internationale Studien- und Ausbildungspartnerschaften:


Ingrid Weatherall
International Office
'HAW goes USA'

Prof. H. Pat Artis
Virginia Tech