The space sector contributes £7.5bn per annum to the UK economy alone, and space activity across Europe and the world continues to thrive. There is a continuing need for talented employees with a good understanding of spacecraft systems engineering, coupled with a broad range of technical skills. Evolving constantly since 1987, this course has prepared graduates for highly successful careers in the space sector.

At a glance

  • Start dateOctober
  • DurationOne year full-time, two-five years part-time (by extended thesis)
  • DeliveryTaught modules 25%, Group project 30%, Individual research project 45%
  • QualificationMSc
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time

Who is it for?

Suitable for graduates in engineering, physics or mathematics, this course will prepare you for a career in this exciting field, from earth observation to planetary exploration, launch vehicles to spacecraft operations, and much more.

Why this course?

This Masters is highly respected around the world, and many of our students obtain employment/research offers in the space sector before the course finishes. We encourage interaction between our students and potential employers at events such as the Group Design Project industry presentation, dedicated interview days, and Alumni Conferences. In many space companies and agencies within Europe you will find our former graduates, some in very senior positions. Many of them continue to contribute to the course, forming a valuable network of contacts for those entering the industry and this course will equip you with the skills required to join them in a successful career in industry or research.

This course is also available on a part-time basis for individuals who wish to study whilst remaining in full-time employment. Cranfield University is well located for part-time students from all over the world, and offers a range of support services for off-site students. This enables students from around the world to complete this qualification whilst balancing work/life commitments.

Informed by Industry

The course is directed by an Industrial Advisory Panel comprising senior representatives from leading space and associated sectors. This group makes sure that the course content equips you with the skills and knowledge required by leading employers.

The Industrial Advisory Panel includes:

  • Mr Andrew Bradford, Director of Engineering, SSTL
  • Dr John Hobbs, ex-EADS Astrium
  • Dr Adam Baker, Newton Launch Systems Ltd
  • Mr Steve Eckersley, EADS Astrium
  • Mr Richard Lowe, Group Manager, EO Systems and Operations, Telespazio Vega.

Your teaching team

You will be taught by a small team of dedicated space engineering specialists, including:

Previous sponsors of their work include UK research councils, the European Commission, the Royal Society British National Space Centre, and the European Space Agency.

Knowledge gained working with our clients is continually fed back into the teaching programme to ensure that you benefit from the very latest knowledge and techniques affecting industry.

The course also includes visiting lecturers from industry who will relate the theory to current best practice. In recent years, our students have received lectures from industry speakers including:

  • Professor M Rycroft, International Space University
  • Professor B Parkinson, EADS Astrium
  • Dr S Hardacre, EADS Astrium, and
  • Various external speakers from UK Space Agency.

Accreditation

The MSc in Astronautics & Space Engineering is accredited by the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements of Further Learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer.  Candidates must hold a CEng accredited BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree to comply with full CEng registration requirements.

Course details

The taught programme for the Astronautics and Space Engineering masters is generally delivered from October to September. A range of core modules allows you to gain a firm grounding in space engineering before opting for specialist modules to build your knowledge in a certain area.

Group project

This is a space mission design study conducted in teams of 10-15 students. It typically takes place from September to April and is assessed by written reports and presentations. It emphasises space systems engineering methodologies, and is designed to prepare our graduates for the project-based working environment often found in space companies and agencies. The topics chosen for the project are strongly influenced by industry.

Recent Group projects have included:

  • Asteroid Sample Return
  • Titan Exploration Mission
  • European Data Relay Satellite System.

Our part-time students are encouraged to participate in a group project as it provides a wealth of learning opportunities. However, an option of an individual dissertation is available if agreed with the Course Director.

Watch a past presentation video to give you a taster of our innovative and exciting group projects (YouTube).

Individual project

The individual research project is the largest single component of the course typically taking place between April and August. It allows you to develop specialist skills in an area of your choice by taking the theory from the taught modules and joining it with practical experience. A list of suggested topics is provided, and includes projects proposed by academic staff and industry.

Recent Individual Research Projects have included:

  • Thermal Analysis of a Google Lunar X-Prize Rover
  • Cubesat Ground Station Implementation
  • Responsive Space and Concurrent Engineering
  • Space Suit Performance During Seat Ingress/Egress
  • Radar Data Simulation for Soil Moisture Estimation.

Part-time students are encouraged to participate in a group project as it provides a wealth of learning opportunities. However, an option of an individual dissertation is available if agreed with the Course Director.



Assessment

Taught modules 25%, Group project 30%, Individual research project 45%

Core modules

Space Systems Engineering

Module Leader
  • Dr Jennifer Kingston
Aim

    To demonstrate how to develop the design of a space system, from the initial mission objective, through requirements definition, concept development and trade-off, and through to a baseline design.

Syllabus

    Brief history and context: background to the development of space, agencies, funding, future missions.

    Introduction to space system design methodology: requirements, trade-off analysis, design specifications, system budgets.

    Spacecraft sub-systems design: structure and configuration; power, the power budget and solar array and battery sizing; communications and the link budget; attitude determination and control; orbit determination and control; thermal control.

    Mission and payload types Spacecraft configuration: examples of configuration of spacecraft designed for various mission types; case study.

    Introduction to cost engineering

    Space and Spacecraft Environment: radiation, vacuum, debris, spacecraft charging, material behaviour and outgassing.

    Assembly, Integration and Test processes: launch campaign and Space mission operations.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this module, which leads into the group design project, students should be capable of structuring a spacecraft design and development programme through being able to:

  • Establish quantitative mission requirements
  • Characterise the mission design drivers and identify solution options at system and subsystem level
  • Evaluate the performance of options by means of a trade-off analysis
  • Produce a baseline system definition, with appropriate engineering budgets
  • Outline a programme plan to verify the system performance.

Astrodynamics and Mission Analysis

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide a critical understanding of the basic principles of Astrodynamics and Mission Analysis and of their application to typical mission analysis problems.

Syllabus

    Astrodynamics - Keplerian orbital motion

    • Newton’s Law of Gravitation.
    • Equations of Motion for a two body system.
    • Motion in a Central Field. Conic Sections.
    • The Geometry of the Ellipse. Kepler's Laws.
    • The Position-Time Problem.
    • The Energy Integral.
    • The Satellite Orbit in Space.

    Astrodynamics - Orbit Perturbations. 

    • Variation of Parameters.
    • Perturbations Caused by Earth Oblateness.
    • Perturbations Caused by a Third Body.
    • Triaxiality Perturbations.

    Mission analysis

    • Orbit Selection for Mission Design.
    • Hohmann Transfer and Inclinations Changes.
    • Hyperbolic Passage.
    • Patched Conics Interplanetary trajectories.
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should :

  • Be able to apply appropriate techniques to solve a range of practical astrodynamics and mission analysis problems
  • Be able to describe widely used orbit types and their applications, and evaluate the perturbations on these orbits
  • Be able to plan impulsive orbital manoeuvres to achieve mission design requirements.

Space Propulsion

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide an understanding of the thermofluid dynamic concepts underlying rocket and air-breathing space propulsion and of their implications for launch vehicle and spacecraft system performance and design.

Syllabus

    Introduction : The interactions between propulsion system, mission & spacecraft design.

    Launch Vehicle Performance : mission requirements, vehicle dynamics, Tsiolkovski rocket equation, launch vehicle sizing and multi-staging, illustrative launcher performance (Scout, Ariane, Shuttle programmes) - launch site / range safety constraints, geostationary orbit acquisition.

    Expendable Launch Vehicles - Current Options : vehicle design summaries, orbital transfer vehicles, comparative launch costs, reusable launchers.

    Propulsion Fundamentals : systems classification, nozzle flows, off-design considerations (under/over-expanded flows ), thermochemistry.

    Space Propulsion Systems and Performance : propellants and combustion, solid and liquid propellant systems, engine cycles:  spacecraft propulsion - orbit raising, station-keeping and attitude control, propellant management at low-g - alternative storage and delivery systems:  electric propulsion, separately-powered rocket performance, low thrust manoeuvres, thruster concepts and configurations.

    Air-Breathing Propulsion for Launcher Applications : motivation, concepts and Mach number constraints : ramjet cycle analysis - implications of alternative fuels, intake design, supersonic combustion, air liquefaction cycles, future trends in  launcher configuration.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should:

  • Be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of the constraints imposed by launch vehicle performance and operation on mission analysis
  • Be able to perform preliminary mission design studies which accommodate the capabilities of the major launch systems currently available
  • Be able to use one-dimensional gas dynamic relationships to perform initial propulsion system design point and off-design calculations
  • Be familiar with the principal options for propulsion system design in relation to both boosters and secondary spacecraft propulsion, and to be able to assess critically their relative strengths in a range of mission applications
  • Be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of the determining factors in high speed flows which constrain the application of air-breathing propulsion to space launcher applications and the current responses to the technical challenges posed.

Space Communications

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide an overview of data handling on-board spacecraft and of current approaches to communications between spacecraft and the Earth for telemetry and for spacecraft payloads. Issues of particular relevance to system design are highlighted.

Syllabus
    • Overview of satellite communications
    • Communications link, signal to noise ratio, modulation
    • Multiplexing
    • Compression and error coding
    • Analogue to digital conversion
    • Satellite repeaters.
Intended learning outcomes

On successfully completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Understand and describe the key features of different satellite communications systems
  • Understand the modulation and multiplexing processes and the different techniques used
  • Calculate system noise and error rates
  • Calculate the capacity of a communication channel
  • Describe different antenna types, characteristics and applications
  • Compare different multiple access methods
  • Calculate a link budget and its constituent elements
  • Describe different methods of error detection and correction, and data encoding.

Launch and Re-Entry Aerodynamics

Module Leader
Aim

    To give students with a background in physical science or general engineering an appreciation of the principal aerodynamic factors affecting the design of spacecraft and launch vehicles.

Syllabus
    • The course describes the thermal and dynamic loads experienced by launch and re-entry vehicles
    • Topics include hypersonic aerodynamics and re-entry, flight at high Mach numbers, re-entry pressure and heat loads
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should:

  • Have gained an appreciation of the principal aerodynamic design issues for the launch and descent/re-entry phases of a space mission
  • Appreciate the significant features of the dynamic response of a structure.

Environmental Control and Life Support Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr Craig Lawson
Aim

    To provide an introduction to the requirements for and principles of operation of Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) for space vehicles.

Syllabus
    • Space vehicle environmental control and life support system requirements and analysis
    • Cabin heat balance calculations
    • Space vehicle environmental control and life support system components and design.
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the students should be able to:

  • Have an awareness of the purpose and functions ECLSS may fulfil
  • Understand the requirements of the human body
  • Have an awareness of the space environment and how this can affect human body performance
  • Understand the limitations of the human body in the context of survival in the space environment and the implications of failing to meet human requirements
  • Perform steady state heat balance calculations
  • Gain awareness of the required input information to define the necessary design requirements for a particular space vehicle and mission
  • Understand a range of possible principles available to implement systems to meet ECLSS functional requirements
  • Identify previously and currently used systems to fulfil ECLSS function
  • Understand the advantages and disadvantages of various types ECLSS and what future changes may take place in ECLSS design.

Modelling of Dynamic Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr James Whidborne
Aim

    To provide an understanding of the mathematical techniques that underpin both classical and modern control law design.

Syllabus
    • The Laplace transform
    • Transfer-function approach to modelling dynamic systems
    • State-space approach to modelling dynamic systems
    • Time-domain analysis of simple dynamic systems
    • Frequency response of simple dynamic systems
    • Sampled-data and discrete time systems.


Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Use Laplace transform techniques to derive transfer functions of typical mechanical, electrical and fluid systems
  • Calculate and plot the step and frequency responses of linear systems
  • Derive the state equations for typical systems
  • Obtain discrete time representations of linear systems
  • Use MATLAB for matrix and systems algebra and to plot system responses.

Space Environment

Module Leader
  • Dr Jennifer Kingston
Aim

    To describe the near-Earth space environment, with particular reference to its impact on spacecraft design and space systems.

Syllabus
    • Properties of the near-Earth space environment and interplanetary medium
    • Key features: solar wind, geomagnetic field, magnetosphere, ionosphere, thermosphere, aurora
    • Basic plasma physics and magneto-ionic theory relevant to the near-Earth space environment
    • Applications: radiation belts, whistlers, spacecraft charging, communications.
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should:

  • Understand the key physical parameters of the near-earth space environment
  • Appreciate the ways in which the space environment affects spacecraft design and space systems.

Payload Engineering and Instrumentation

Module Leader
  • Dr Stephen Hobbs
Aim
    • To summarise the principal payload design issues and their relation to space mission 
    • To design explain payload principles
    • Yo enable students to perform a quantitative system design of an imaging payload.
Syllabus
    • Payload relation to space system design (examples)
    • System design: translating user requirements into a quantitative system specification
    • Payload technology: instrument types, imaging systems (radiation source, propagation medium, target, detector/sensor); specific techniques (visible, infra-red, microwave)
    • Instrument performance; figures of merit, outline sensor design
    • Outline design of an imaging payload
    • Sensor case studies; specific satellite payloads used to illustrate aspects of modern payload design.
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should:

  • Understand how to translate user requirements into quantitative engineering specifications
  • Be familiar with typical payload designs for a range of earth observation applications
  • Understand the various figures of merit used to characterise sensor / detector performance
  • Be able to perform an outline system design of a general visible/near-IR imaging sensor
  • Appreciate the processes required to convert sensor measurements into valid user information.

Earth Observation and the Environment

Module Leader
  • Dr Stephen Hobbs
Aim

    To give engineering / physical science students an understanding of the Earth's climate system, an appreciation of the key current environmental issues, and of the role of space systems in tackling them.

Syllabus
    • Introduction: overview of the environment, its importance for quality of life, and of the importance of Earth observation as a part of the space industry.
    • Earth's environment: description as a system; identification of the key environment system components and their characteristics and interactions.
    • Key environmental issues relevant to Earth observation: local (pollution), regional (deforestation, acid rain), and global (ozone depletion, climate change).
    • Earth observation techniques: methods of measuring key geophysical parameters from space.
    • Applications of Earth observation: overview of different sectors (agriculture, etc.).
    • Climate change: science, impacts and policy.
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should :

  • Understand the description of the Earth's environment as a system, and its key components and their interactions
  • Appreciate how Earth observation can help address environmental issues
  • Be able to relate earth observation measurements to geophysical parameters
  • Be familiar with applications of Earth observation across a range of sectors
  • Have an outline understanding of the scientific basis of climate change, its potential impact on society, and mitigation/adaptation options.

Structural Mechanics

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide student with a fundamental knowledge and understanding of structural mechanics and thin walled structures.

Syllabus
    • Introduction to structural mechanics
    • Basic structural elements (bars, beams, plates, shells)
    • Engineering bending theory
    • Advanced bending theories
    • Torsion for basic structural elements
    • Analysis and design implications of statically indeterminate structures
    • Energy methods of structural analysis
    • Stress analysis of thin walled structures under axial, bending and torsion loads
    • Warping and warping restraint effects
    • Shear lag.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module the students will be able to:

  • Effectively use basic structural elements to design structures to meet design requirements
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyse simple structures using hand calculation
  • Understand load paths in structures and demonstrate a knowledge of thin-walled structural behaviour
  • Calculate the stresses within a thin-walled structural component.

Impact Dynamics and Spacecraft Protection

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide an overview of the risk to spacecraft from hypervelocity impacts and the design options available to minimise the risk.

Syllabus

    A major threat to spacecraft survival is caused by possible impacts with fast moving orbital debris or meteorites. This is covered both from the point of view of the origin and distribution of impact particles, and from that of the design of protection systems for spacecraft against hypervelocity impact. The subject will be new to most students and this is allowed for, with basic concepts being covered before more advanced aspects are tackled.

    Statistical breakdown of particle distribution: size, mass, velocity, location. Potential damage.

    Spacecraft protection methods: single and double bumper systems with single pressure wall. Effects of impact obliquity, bumper thickness, stand-off distance and pressure wall thickness on protection performance. Impacts on spacecraft transparencies.  

    Plasticity theory: small/large strain and strain-rate effects. Plastic deformation behaviour, temperature effects in adiabatic deformation, equations of state. Behaviour of beams and frames under impulse and collapse loading (including energy absorption).  

    Stress waves: 1 dimensional impact stress waves, torsional and flexural waves. Shock waves in solids. Reflection, superposition and refraction of waves at interfaces. Stress wave theory applied to momentum traps, spalling bars and plates, fracture patterns.  

    Computer methods: overview of available software. Specialist features required (explicit algorithms, non-linear material models, large deformation and failure algorithms, treatment of contacts etc.).

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should :

  • Understand the types of risk to spacecraft from hypervelocity impacts
  • Understand the design methods to minimise the risk from impact
  • Understand some basic principles of impact dynamics.

Spacecraft Data Handling and Software Development

Module Leader
  • Dr Stephen Hobbs
Aim

    To introduce the software development and documentation process and to develop students' skills in the use of the Excel spreadsheet program.

Syllabus
    • Introduction: the need for a formal development and documentation process in professional software development; history of the standards currently in use in the space industry
    • Overview of the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program and its use in science/engineering
    • The ESA software development model and associated documentation
    • Team project: develop an Excel spreadsheet and associated supporting documentation (in brief) for space mission analysis based on a supplied user requirement document.
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should: 

  • Have basic skills for using Excel, and be able to write simple functions to extend its capability
  • Understand the software development model used by ESA
  • Understand the role and outline content of the documentation
  • Be aware of course requirements for software or program results submitted for assessment.

Introduction to Spacecraft Operations

Module Leader
Aim

    To give engineers the skills they require to become spacecraft operations engineers for modern satellite missions, gaining critical knowledge and experience in a domain where hands-on training is difficult to obtain. The acquired skills and knowledge are all geared from an operational perspective and include spacecraft architecture, command and control systems and best practice in procedure-based operations.

Syllabus

    The course is presented through lectures, Computer-Based Training (CBT) and real-time spacecraft simulations exercises. It is conducted by highly experienced spacecraft operations engineers from VEGA, one of Europe’s largest and most established space consulting and technology companies and Europe’s leading space simulations company. Comprehensive printed notes are issued at the beginning of the course.

    Topics included are:

    • Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystem (AOCS)
    • Electrical Power Subsystem (EPS)
    • Telemetry, Tracking and Commanding Subsystem (TT&C)
    • Thermal Control Subsystem (TCS)
    • On-Board Data Handling (OBDH)
    • Telecommands and Telemetry
    • Mission Control Centres
    • Procedure-Based Operations
    • Mission Operations Life Cycle
    • Mission Simulators
    • Spacecraft Telemetry/Telecommand Databases
    • Simulation Exercises.
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should:

  • Understand what spacecraft operations involve
  • Be able to develop and perform spacecraft operations procedures using the simulator.

Structural Dynamics

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide students with a basic knowledge and understanding of structural vibration and dynamics, and an understanding of finite element analysis of dynamics and vibration.

Syllabus
    • Introduction to structural dynamics
    • Vibration of basic structural elements
    • Free, forced and damped vibration
    • The introduction of inertial and dynamic terms in finite element theory
    • Lumped and consistent mass matrices
    • Damping matrices
    • Eigenvalue problem solution methods
    • Direct time integration methods
    • Problems and errors associated with applying FEM to the solution of actual problems.
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to analyse simple structures using hand calculation
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how inertial and dynamic terms are included in finite element theory
  • Appreciate the difference between explicit and implicit methods
  • Demonstrate the ability to perform dynamic FE analyses of simple structures.

Optional 

Control Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr James Whidborne
Aim

    To provide knowledge of the fundamentals of control engineering for the analysis and design of control systems in aerospace applications.

Syllabus
    • Feedback control system characteristics
    • Control system performance
    • Stability of Linear Feedback Systems
    • Root locus method
    • Frequency response method
    • Nyquist stability
    • Classical controller design
    • State variable controller design
    • Robust control
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module the students will be able to:

  • Understand the stability, characteristics and behaviour of single-input single-output feedback control systems
  • Design compensators for single-input single-output systems
  • Use modern PC-based CAD software as an aid in the solution of control engineering problems and design of control systems using classical methods
  • Recognise the advantages and limitations of feedback and understand the importance of robustness.

Multivariable Control for Aerospace Applications

Module Leader
  • Dr James Whidborne
Aim

    To provide a knowledge of modern control techniques for the analysis and design of multivariable aerospace control systems.

Syllabus

    Multivariable System Analysis

    • Multivariable linear systems theory
    • System realisations
    • Controllability, observability and canonical forms
    • Size of signals and systems

    Multivariable Control System Design 

    • System interconnection and feedback
    • Optimal linear quadratic control and estimation
    • Uncertainty and conditions for robustness
    • H-infinity optimal control
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student will be able to:

  • Analyse the stability, robustness and performance of multivariable aerospace control systems
  • Design robust and optimal feedback control systems using state variable techniques, using MATLAB
  • Recognise the advantages and limitations of optimal feedback control.

Sensors and Data Fusion

Module Leader
  • Dr Stephen Hobbs
Aim

    The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to the principles of sensor fusion, system integration and error analysis and prediction.

Syllabus
    • Error Characteristics of Aircraft Sensors, INS, GPS, VOR, DME
    • Random Signals and Random Processes
    • Measurement in Noise
    • Error Analysis
    • Discrete Kalman Filter
    • Case Study: Barometric Aiding For INS
    • Case Study: GPS models.
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the students should be able to:

  • Understand the principles of error analysis in time varying systems
  • Understand the principles of Kalman filtering
  • Appreciate the design methods using to integrate aircraft navigation systems.

Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics and Control

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide an introduction to spacecraft kinematics and dynamics, focussing on rigid body dynamics and control of Earth orbiting satellites.

Syllabus

    Overview:

    • How does spacecraft dynamics relate to satellite control problem?
    • AOCS (Attitude and Orbit Control Sub-system) design process
    • Interactions with other sub-systems
    • Control loop representation

    Kinematics:

    • Attitude representation: Euler angles, Euler parameters (quaternions)
    • Common reference frames (inertial, orbit referenced)
    • Transformation between reference frames
    • Small angle linearisation (reduction of 3dof control problem to 1dof)

    Rigid body dynamics:

    • Euler's equations for rigid bodies
    • Axisymetric spacecraft and free-body dynamics
    • Disturbance torques

    Application to spacecraft control:

    • Simulating spacecraft free-body kinematics and dynamics in MATLAB
    • Sensor basics (sun sensors, star trackers, rate sensors)
    • Actuator basics (thrusters, reaction wheels)
    • Rate control of rigid body spacecraft

    Attitude control of 3-axis stabilised spacecraft

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this module the student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the dynamics and kinematics of rotational motion of spacecraft
  • Apply appropriate techniques to solve a range of practical spacecraft dynamics and control problems.

Design and Analysis of Composite Structures

Module Leader
  • Dr Shijun Guo
Aim

    To introduce the composite materials, manufacturing techniques and analysis methods for the design of aerospace composite structures.

Syllabus
    • Introduction - Types of composite materials, especially FRP composites
    • Overview of composites manufacturing techniques
    • Micromechanics and macromechanics for stiffness and strength analysis of a FRP ply
    • Macromechanics, constitutive equation, stiffness and strength analysis of a FRP laminate
    • Thermal and moisture residual stresses in a FRP laminate
    • Buckling aspects of laminate plates
    • Sandwich panels with FRP composite facing skins
    • Stress analysis of an open and closed section FRP composite structure subjected to various loadings

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module the students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key features and particular properties of composite materials, especially fibre reinforced plastics (FRP)
  • Understand modern manufacturing techniques for aerospace composite structures
  • Apply analytical methods for the evaluation of moisture and thermal effects on a FRP laminate
  • Demonstrate an ability to predict the buckling behaviour of laminate plates and sandwich panels through the application of analytical techniques and data sheets
  • Evaluate a FRP laminate based on stiffness and stress analysis failure criteria techniques using PC-Based software
  • Perform stress analysis of laminated composite structures with open and closed sections subjected to various loadings
  • Extend their knowledge and skills to the design and analysis of more complex composite structures on the Group Design Project.

Aerospace Navigation and Sensors

Module Leader
  • Dr Stephen Hobbs
Aim
    The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to the principles of aerospace navigation systems based on inertial sensors and satellite navigation as well as to provide an introduction to the principles of sensor fusion, system integration and error analysis and prediction.
Syllabus
    GNSS and INS

    Introduction (1 hour)
    Overview of navigation principles, typical applications; axis systems and projections (1 hour)
    Inertial Navigation Systems (3 hours)
    Principles of inertial navigation; accelerometers, gyroscopes, specific technologies such as Ring Laser Gyros; Axis transformations and mechanisation of IN equations; Errors in inertial navigation, Schuler loop tuning, INS modelling & aiding
    GNSS (6 hours)
    Development history: GNSS, GPS, GLONASS, EGNOS, Galileo; GPS system architecture (ground, space, user segments); Code (CDMA) and carrier techniques; signal processing (correlation), integer ambiguities; Error sources (natural, other); Augmentation: differential GPS (local, wide area), other sensors (e.g. INS); Applications / issues: user groups (aviation, space), integrity (RAIM), accuracy, reliability

    Sensors and Data Fusion

    • Error Characteristics of Aircraft Sensors, INS, GPS, VOR, DME (2 lectures)
    • Random Signals And Random Processes (1 lecture)
    • Measurement In Noise (1 lecture)
    • Error Analysis (2 lectures)
    • Discrete Kalman Filter (2 lectures)
    • Case Study: Barometric Aiding For INS (1 lecture)
    • Case Study: GPS models (1 lecture)
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

GNSS and INS:
  • Explain and discuss the roles of inertial and satellite navigation in aerospace
  • Explain and discuss inertial navigation principles, error sources, and aerospace applications
  • Explain and discuss satellite navigation principles, error sources, applications and key issues.

Sensors and Data Fusion:
  • Explain the principles of data acquisition systems and design a basic system
  • Design and implement a simple Kalman filter to process measurements and estimate position, velocity, etc
  • Appreciate the design methods using to integrate aerospace navigation systems.

Finite Element Analysis

Module Leader
  • Ioannis Giannopoulos
Aim
    The course is aimed at giving potential Finite Element USERS basic understanding of the inner workings of the method.  

    The objective is to introduce users to the terminology, basic numerical and mathematical aspects of the method. This should help students to avoid some of the more common and important user errors, many of which stem from a "black box" approach to this technique. Some basic guidelines are also given on how to approach the modelling of structures using the Finite Element Method. 
Syllabus
    • Illustration of basics of FEM using the Direct Stiffness method to define both terminology and theoretical approach   
    • Introduction to FE modelling: Idealisation, Discretisation, Meshing.  ‘Do’s and don’ts’ of modelling.  Potential Energy methods for structures and their use in Finite Elements   
    • FE method for continua illustrated with membrane and shell elements
    • Accuracy considerations: higher order elements, isoparametric elements
    • The role of numerical integration and methods used in FE
    • Problems of large systems of equations for FE, and solution methods.  Sub structuring
    • The SAFESA approach for tracking and controlling errors in a finite element analysis.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Understand the underlying principles and key aspects of practical application of FEA to structural problems
  • Understand the main mathematical and numerical aspects of the element formulations for 1D, 2D and 3D elements
  • Build and analyse finite element models based on structural and continuum elements with proper understanding of limitations of the FEM
  • Interpret results of the analyses and assess error levels
  • Critically evaluate the constraints and implications imposed by the finite element method
  • Extend their knowledge and skills to the FE analysis of more complex structures on their thesis work.

Fees and funding

European Union students applying for university places in the 2017 to 2018 academic year will still have access to student funding support.

Please see the UK Government’s Department of Education press release for more information

Cranfield University welcomes applications from students from all over the world for our postgraduate programmes. The Home/EU student fees listed continue to apply to EU students.

MSc Full-time £9,000
MSc Part-time £9,000 *
  • * Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or in a maximum of two payments per year; first instalment on receipt of invoice and the second instalment six months later.  

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

MSc Full-time £18,500
MSc Part-time £18,500 *
  • * Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or in a maximum of two payments per year; first instalment on receipt of invoice and the second instalment six months later.  

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

Funding Opportunities

To help students find and secure appropriate funding, we have created a funding finder where you can search for suitable sources of funding by filtering the results to suit your needs. 

Visit the funding finder.

Bursaries may be available, however please be aware that funding will, in most cases, only be discussed once you have secured a firm offer of a place on the course. Please contact the Enquiries Office for further details.

Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS)

The Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS) is a funding programme providing affordable tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time UK/EU students studying technology-based MSc courses.

Conacyt (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia)

Cranfield offers competitive scholarships for Mexican students in conjunction with Conacyt (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia) in science, technology and engineering.

Entry requirements

A first or second class UK Honours degree or equivalent, in mathematics, physics or an engineering discipline.

In general, our intake comes from both a physics and engineering background. Students from other sciences, mathematics, or computing backgrounds are welcome to apply and we will consider applications on a case by case basis.

Applicants who do not fulfil the standard entry requirements can apply for the Pre-Masters programme, successful completion of which will qualify them for entry to this course for a second year of study.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

IELTS - 6.5

TOEFL - 92 

Pearson PTE Academic - 65

Cambridge English Scale - 180

Cambridge English: Advanced - C

Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.

Your career

Cranfield University is heavily supported by the space industry in the UK. Many of these companies provide case study lectures, concepts and thesis topics for the individual research projects, and some actively support the group design projects. They also provide a guide to the content of the course, so they are confident that Cranfield are training people with the industry skills employers require.

As a result, our graduates are regularly recruited by organisations including EADS Astrium, SSTL, Vega, ABSL, Tessella, OHB, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the European Space Agency in roles including Systems Engineer, Spacecraft Operations Engineer, Thermal Analyst and Space Robotics Engineer. We arrange company visits and interview days with key employers.

If your interests lie in research, many former students have gone on to pursue PhDs at Cranfield and other universities.

wind tunnel

I really think that this international experience is a strong asset for my future career. Cranfield has been a really good experience in terms of my academic and social development. The different infrastructures of the university allow the student to enjoy life on campus. I recommend Cranfield University.

Aurelien Hugon , Student

Applying

Online application form. Applicants may be invited to attend an interview. Applicants based outside of the UK may be interviewed either by telephone or video conference.