Spacecraft Formation Relative Orbits, Short Course | Part time online | Coursera | United States
2 months
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Explore a Career in Spacecraft Relative Orbits. Master the theories and concepts of spacecraft formation relative orbits with this Spacecraft Formation Relative Orbits course offered by Coursera in partnership with University of Colorado Boulder.

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This Spacecraft Formation Relative Orbits course offered by Coursera in partnership with University of Colorado Boulder studies spacecraft relative orbits. This is of interest to mission scenarios including rendezvous and docking, inspection circumnavigation trajectories, on orbit assembly, space debris mitigation, or interferometric science applications in space. It assumes the learner has already had a complete course on orbital mechanics of a single spacecraft including solutions to the 2-body problem, solving time of flight problems, and understanding J2-perturbations on a spacecraft, as well as how to develop relative orbit feedback control solutions. The specialization is of interest to researchers who need to learn the fundamentals of deriving relative equations of motion about circular, elliptical or even hyperbolic reference orbits. Both nonlinear and linearized relative orbit descriptions are explored and compared, including curvilinear Cartesian coordinates and orbit element differences. Analytical relative motion solutions are developed to understand fundamental relative motion prototypes. Next, the impact of the J2 perturbation is explored for the relative motion, including how to develop J2-invariant relative orbits. Finally, nonlinear relative motion feedback control laws are developed to actively control the relative motion. The specialization targets learners interested in rendezvous and docking, orbital servicing, or developing relative orbit missions.

Applied Learning Project

The learner will learn how to design, model and control relative orbit trajectories suitable for a range of mission scenarios. The Specialization concludes with a capstone project where learners will apply their knowledge to investigate having a servicer spacecraft approach a tumbling space debris object.

What You Will Learn:

  • Describe relative orbits using a range of coordinates
  • Design relative formations that exploit orbital perturbations
  • Describe the impact of orbit perturbations on the relative orbit geometry
  • Develop feedback control laws to stabilize desired relative orbits

Skills You Will Gain:

  • Spacecraft rendezvous
  • Orbital perturbations
  • Relative orbit design
  • Nonlinear control
  • Relative motion control

Programme Structure

Courses include:

  • Spacecraft Relative Motion Kinematics and Kinetics
  • Spacecraft Relative Motion Control
  • Spacecraft Formation Flying and Control Capstone Project

Key information


  • Part-time
    • 2 months
    • Flexible

Start dates & application deadlines

You can apply for and start this programme anytime.





Academic requirements

We are not aware of any specific GRE, GMAT or GPA grading score requirements for this programme.

English requirements

We are not aware of any English requirements for this programme.

Other requirements

General requirements

Advanced level

  • Recommended experience: A strong background in orbital motion of a single satellite, vector calculus, linear algebra, linear control and differential equations 

Tuition Fee

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  • International

    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 0 USD for the full programme during 2 months.
  • National

    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 0 USD for the full programme during 2 months.

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Coursera provides financial aid to learners who cannot afford the fee. Apply for it by clicking on the Financial Aid link beneath the "Enroll" button on the left. You'll be prompted to complete an application and will be notified if you are approved. You'll need to complete this step for each course in the Specialization, including the Capstone Project.

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