ASCEND is an Intensive Space Professional Development Program consisting of five consecutive courses designed to help you and your small satellite team ascend the ladder to space. Modeled after SpaceTech, NASA SEPMAP and other acclaimed TSTI programs-based on decades of experience


Program Learning Objectives

—At the end of this program participants will be able to…

  • Understand the key principles, practices, tools and techniques of space systems engineering and project management;
  • Explain fundamental principles of astrodynamics, space mission design and mission operations;
  • Solve technical problems in orbital mechanics and space system design;
  • Describe the inputs, processes and outputs of a space system verification and validation program including the unique requirements for environmental testing.
  • Define the planning, execution and support requirements for real-time space mission operations.
  • Apply space systems engineering processes and system design principles, along with software tools to develop a conceptual design for a space mission.
  • Synthesize all tools and techniques learned in the program during end-to-end concurrent mission design workshop. Given a real-world set of mission goals and objectives, along with a set of integrated design tools, design, develop, build, integrate and test a bench-top payload into a non-flight educational satellite system.
  • Take the next crucial step up the space development ladder to embrace NANOBED and other tools to develop space payloads and undertake serious discussion with hardware vendors and explore launch and deployment options.

Program Modules – hands-on onsite training supported by extensive online resources

  • Foundations: Understanding Space using STK (online)
  • Module 1: Designing Small Satellite Missions and Systems (2.5 days onsite)
  • Module 2: Applied Space Systems Engineering with MBSE (2.5 days onsite)
  • Module 3: Space Mission Operations (2.5 days onsite)
  • Module 4: Integrated CubeSat Engineering Workshop (2.5 days onsite)
  • Integrated Case Study Exercise tying all courses together (between sessions)

Exposure to real-world mission hardware/software and launch options through the program co-sponsors—Nanoracks, ClydeSpace and AGI.

Graduates receive a Certificate of Proficiency in Small Satellite Engineering endorsed by program sponsors

Detailed ASCEND Program Agenda and Learning Objectives

Foundations: Understanding Space Using STK

Venue: Online, Duration: Available throughout the program

Learning Objectives:
US 4th edition cover

  • Gain Core Space Knowledge
  • Comprehend space mission Capabilities, Trade-offs and Limitations
  • Apply Space Concepts to real-world problems
  • Use STK to view and analyze orbital mechanics and system problems
    (ADCS, power, comm, etc.)
  • Compare and contrast different technical approaches for space missions
  • Synthesize concepts to Design a Space Mission
  • Evaluate basic technical and programmatic space issues

Module 1: Designing Small Satellite Missions and Systems

Venue: Onsite, Duration/Timing: 2.5 days @ Kickoff

Learning Objectives:

  • Enhanced understanding of the big picture for small satellite missions and systems
  • Working technical knowledge of how all the elements of a small satellite mission work and the key trade offs
  • Practical experience with using data and systems engineering processes in the Space Technology Series to develop conceptual designs for space missions and systems
  • An organized framework for future space learning—on your own, in academic courses, or other short

Module 2: Applied Space Systems Engineering and Model-based Systems Engineering

Venue: Onsite, Duration: 2.5 days / ~4-6 weeks after Module 1

Learning Objectives:
ASSE text cover

  • Define key terms used in systems engineering in general, and space systems engineering in particular
  • Explain systems engineering processes used to characterize an existing need and develop new operational capabilities to address that need throughout the acquisition lifecycle
  • Describe lessons learned from past space systems engineering projects
  • Apply systems engineering process and tools to real world problems in various stages of lifecycle development
  • Critically analyze existing mission requirements, concepts of operations, functional and physical architectures and other system engineering process outputs
  • Synthesize systems engineering best practices to critically evaluate your current technical challenges and enhance your ability to intelligently balance cost, schedule, performance and risk on your own projects and programs
  • Apply model-based systems engineering (MBSE) tools to solve real-world problems

Module 3: Space Mission Operations

Venue: Onsite, Duration: 2.5 days / ~4-6 weeks after Module 2

Learning Objectives:
Small Sat Program Guide

  • Define and explain the critical activities of space mission operations
  • Develop a mission concept of operations (ConOps) and be able to critically analyze one of these key documents
  • Describe the elements that contribute to mission operations complexity and perform trade-off analyses to reduce that complexity
  • Apply principles of orbital mechanics to plan and implement key operations activities
  • Describe and analyze key elements of mission ground systems including communication link budgets
  • Compare and contrast operations concepts for military, civil, scientific and human space missions
  • Develop the planning, execution and support requirements for real-time space mission operations

Module 4: Integrated-CubeSAT Engineering Workshop

Venue: Onsite, Duration: 2.5 days / ~4-6 weeks after Module 3

Learning Objectives:

  • Define mission needs, goals, objectives and ConOps for a CubeSat mission to satisfy a Pre-Phase A requirements
  • Develop and organize detailed mission and system requirements as required by a Phase A System Requirements Review (SRR)
  • Describe the tools and techniques needed to develop the complete preliminary design for a CubeSat and conduct a Phase B preliminary design review (PDR)
  • Evaluate the typical products produced for a critical design review (CDR) at the end of Phase D including system specifications and test plans
  • Implement a typical assembly, integration and test plan for a representative CubeSat system to apply the flow down from requirements to verification activities
  • Conduct simulated operations using a representative CubeSat system to develop and apply operational planning and procedures implementation