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Back to Kinematics: Describing the Motions of Spacecraft

Kinematics: Describing the Motions of Spacecraft, University of Colorado Boulder

71 ratings
21 reviews

About this Course

The movement of bodies in space (like spacecraft, satellites, and space stations) must be predicted and controlled with precision in order to ensure safety and efficacy. Kinematics is a field that develops descriptions and predictions of the motion of these bodies in 3D space. This course in Kinematics covers four major topic areas: an introduction to particle kinematics, a deep dive into rigid body kinematics in two parts (starting with classic descriptions of motion using the directional cosine matrix and Euler angles, and concluding with a review of modern descriptors like quaternions and Classical and Modified Rodrigues parameters). The course ends with a look at static attitude determination, using modern algorithms to predict and execute relative orientations of bodies in space. After this course, you will be able to... * Differentiate a vector as seen by another rotating frame and derive frame dependent velocity and acceleration vectors * Apply the Transport Theorem to solve kinematic particle problems and translate between various sets of attitude descriptions * Add and subtract relative attitude descriptions and integrate those descriptions numerically to predict orientations over time * Derive the fundamental attitude coordinate properties of rigid bodies and determine attitude from a series of heading measurements...

Top reviews


Oct 19, 2017

Brilliant classes! Absolutely brilliant, enjoyed every bit of it. All you need is that you should love Physics and Maths to attend these classes. If you do, it is an enriching experience for you.

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21 Reviews

By Aleksandr Gorbachev

May 05, 2019

Very useful compilation of attitude determination math. Could be applied in many engineering fields, not only spacecraft control.

Special thanks to lector Dr. H. Schaub. He is really know how to teach. I also recommend to visit he's web page, which is very useful.


Mar 14, 2019


By Kasper Wikman

Mar 04, 2019

The course is really nice. It gave me a good perspective of the coordinate systems used for attitude control and how they are good and bad in different contexts. It covered valuable topics in new and ongoing work done in the topic with a great lecturer that is engaging with the class.

The topics covered in attitude determination were also valuable and gave an insight in how attitude determination is done on spacecrafts through multiple sensors. Hopefully this knowledge will help in further classes.

By Nicolas RAVE

Feb 17, 2019

Serious stuff.

By Nicolás Polletta

Feb 08, 2019

Very good material and exercises!

By Jakub Brogyanyi

Dec 28, 2018

Fantastic course with a fantastic lecturer

By Clemens Rumpf

Dec 27, 2018

Very good course! Few of the quizzes have the wrong answers marked as correct which can be confusing when learning the material (see the discussion forum for specifics).

By Konstantinos

Jul 28, 2018

The course is absolutely amazing! You can learn a huge amount of mathematics and applications in classical mechanics on these 4 weeks, which is crucial for me as a physicist, and there are a lot of challenging exercises so you can fully understand this. The only (for my point of view) disadvantage of this course is that in the last week you need to use/learn some programming skilles which I was not interested in learning (I only wanted to study the physics and math of this course even if programming is also useful in the field of physics).

By Vishnuvardhan Shakthibala

Jul 01, 2018

Awesome Course,Professor Hanspeter Schaub is simply awesome, he delivers the concept so perfectly.Course is superb. It was wonderful to take this course. Hoping to take the follow-up courses.Thank you for the course.

By Barath C

Mar 07, 2018

Awesome course! Gave a strong theoretical base.