Orbital Mechanics


Dr. Robert D. Braun
321-3 Knight Building


Required: Bate, Mueller and White, Fundamentals of Astrodynamics, Dover, 1971.
Reference: Wiesel, Spaceflight Dynamics, 2nd edition, McGraw Hill, 1997.
Reference: Curtis, Orbital Mechanics for Engineering Students, Elsevier, 2005.

Course Website:




Course Overview:

Orbital Mechanics is the first in a series of two graduate-level astrodynamics classes offered at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Course content includes historical background and equations of motion, two-body orbital mechanics, orbit determination, orbit prediction, orbital maneuvers, lunar and interplanetary trajectories, orbital rendezvous and space navigation. The course grade is based on the student’s performance in two in-class midterms, a final exam and eight homework sets.

Each homework assignment will be due at the beginning of the lecture, one week from the date it is handed out. No late homework assignments will be accepted. Homework should be legible, professional and demonstrate all important steps in the solution. Use only one side of the page and indicate page numbers and your name on each page. Clearly indicate your final answer by enclosing it in a box. Be sure to indicate units. Deductions will be made for improper homework formats.

Midterm 1 will cover historical background and equations of motion, two-body orbital mechanics, orbit determination, orbital maneuvers and Kepler’s problem (Chapters 1-4 in the BMW text). Midterm 2 will cover Gauss’ problem, lunar, interplanetary trajectories and gravity assist trajectories (Chapters 5, 7 and 8 in the BMW text). All class material (including the restricted three-body problem, orbital rendezvous and space navigation) will be covered in a comprehensive final during finals week. All tests employ a closed book, closed notes format. Chapters 6 and 9 of the BMW text are not assigned. Supplemental reading from the Wiesel and Curtis texts is recommended.

Class lectures will be videotaped and broadcast for distance learning students at the National Institute of Aerospace or other locations.

Course Materials:

Registered students can access all course materials via T-square.


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