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Orbital Mechanics 101 - 2017


Orbital Mechanics
Math and Computer science
Genetics & Epigenetics

MISTI Global Teaching Labs
Armen Samurkashian(armens@mit.edu), MIT ‘17


This course will introduce students to the basic kinematics of spaceflight. It is loosely based on the relevant portions of the MIT course 16.07. The course will be 2 weeks in duration. Students will gain both a mathematical and intuitive understanding of the governing principles of spaceflight through traditional classroom lectures, problem sets, and flight simulations.


Course instruction will be in English, and conversational proficiency is highly recommended for all students wishing to participate. Students should be familiar with basic principles of kinematics (netwons laws). Students should also be comfortable with Algebra at minimum. A basic conceptual understanding of calculus(integrals & derivatives) will also be very useful for the derivation of the rocket equation, but not absolutely necessary.

Course Structure

The first week will consist of traditional lectures and problem sets. Students can expect to be in class for 1 hour/day and working on assignments for 1-2 hours/day. It is during week 1 where students will become acquainted with the math and physics behind orbital mechanics.

Students are sure to enjoy week 2. The course will use a game/flight simulator called Kerbal Space Program to gain an intuitive understanding of the concepts introduced in week 1. Students will simulate various scenarios, including those that they create.

Student grades will be based on class participation and completion of assignments. There will be no examinations.


Day 1:Netwon's Second Law, Rocket Equation  
Day 2:Kepler's Laws
Day 3:Orbits
Day 4:Orbital Transfers
Day 5:Three Body Problem, Lagrange Points
Day 6-10Lab Days
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