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SPST306 - Human Space Flight

Course Details

Course Code: SPST306 Course ID: 3153 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This course evaluates the physical and psychological effects of spaceflight on humans, countermeasures for both short- and long-duration spaceflight, and discussions of human factors in spacecraft engineering. (Prerequisites: SPST200 or SPST300)


Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
11/26/18 - 05/03/19 05/06/19 - 06/30/19 Spring 2019 Session I 8 Week session
01/28/19 - 06/28/19 07/01/19 - 08/25/19 Summer 2019 Session B 8 Week session
03/25/19 - 08/30/19 09/02/19 - 10/27/19 Summer 2019 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

CO-1 Discuss the general types of human factors associated with spaceflight.

CO-2 Detail the various hazards of spaceflight and commensurate countermeasures for the same.

CO-3 Discuss past, current and possible future types of life support and spacecraft habitats.

CO-4 Discuss the importance of selection and training of astronauts.

CO-5 Discuss the various sources of stress on space missions and possible countermeasures for the same.

CO-6 Describe the types of group dynamics that impact spaceflight.

CO-7 Compare and contrast human factors associated with on duty (at work) and off duty activities during spaceflight.

CO-8 Discuss the impacts of mishaps on individuals and crew/group dynamics.

CO-9 Discuss how space tourism is impacting space travel and how it might impact the future of space exploration.

CO-10 Recall the challenges of interstellar space travel and the formation of space settlements.

Forum Assignments

There will be a new forum every one to two weeks throughout the course. Your knowledge of the assigned readings will be reflected in your ability to actively participate and discuss key course concepts. Your initial posting should be between 200-400 words in length (not including citations), well written in your own words (unless otherwise noted) and grammatically correct. Your responses to your fellow students should be at least 50 words in length and include direct questions. Additionally, your responses need to have substance; simply saying “good point” and/or “I agree” isn’t adequate.

In the forums, you will be required to post your response to the topic being discussed. And you will also be required to reply to at least two of your fellow students and ask that student a question about what he/she has written. If you are asked questions about your posting, I expect you to answer at least one of the questions. Note that you will not receive full credit for the forum assignments unless you fully follow these instructions. In other words, you will not receive full credit unless you complete your initial posting, ask questions to at least two students and answer at least one question that you are asked. Additionally, if you make your initial post late on Sunday (thereby not giving your fellow students an opportunity to ask you a question), you can expect that I will ask you a question, which you must answer to receive credit for this part of the forum.

Your forum postings will be graded both for content (75%) and writing standards (correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.) (25%). With the exception of the Week 1 (Introductions) forum, I will use a 100-point scale for grading and the breakdown of possible points is listed below:

  • Initial posting: worth a maximum of 40 points
  • Responses/replies to your fellow students: worth a maximum of 20 points each (40 points maximum)
  • Answer to a fellow student: worth a maximum of 20 points

All of your postings must be completed by the due date for the forum, unless you make a previous arrangement with me for an extension and a new due date. Specifically, for the Week 2-6 and Week 8 forums, your initial posting is due no later than Thursday (11:55 pm, Eastern time zone) of the week in which the forum is due. For the Week 7 forum, your initial post will be due by 11:55 pm (Eastern time zone) on Sunday of that week. You can then use the remaining days to post your replies to your fellow students and answer their questions.

The purpose of the forums is for you to engage your fellow students and learn from them. For this to occur, your interactions in the forums need to be timely. Therefore, I will deduct a maximum of 10 points for late posts from your overall score for a forum. Additionally, postings more than one week after the due date for a forum will NOT be accepted (with the exception of approved course extensions).


Exams 1 through 3 are not comprehensive and only cover the assigned reading/objectives/weekly lessons between the previous exam and that exam. The final exam covers the entire course. With the exception of my notes, there will be questions on the exams covering the information in the weekly lessons. The format for each exam is a combination of multiple-choice, true/false, matching, and fill-in-the-blank questions. In addition, each exam will ask one short answer/essay question and your answer should be at least 200 words in length. For each short answer/essay question, 75% of your grade will be based on your answer’s content and 25% on writing standards (correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.). You will have 75 minutes to complete exams 1 through 3 and two hours to complete the final exam. Once completed, no interaction between students regarding exam topics is allowed!

Research Paper

For your research paper, you must choose a topic related to human spaceflight. Your paper could be on any one of the human spaceflight programs (Mercury, Gemini, Skylab, Shuttle, Shuttle-Mir, etc.), the development and evolution of space suits, the evolution of space food, an overview of astronaut training or an overview of science conducted on the International Space Station. These are just a few ideas. You may choose your topic. However you must present the topic to me for approval, and you should decide on your topic by the end of week 4.

The minimum length for your paper is six pages. For some topics, this is not a lot of information and your paper most likely will be an overview. For example, if you choose the Gemini program, you could discuss the main objectives and accomplishments of the program, the new hardware used in the program and how the program prepared NASA for the next human spaceflight program. Also, you could provide a brief summary of each mission flown in the Gemini program. Again, this is just an example of how you could approach your research paper.

The intent of the paper is to broaden your knowledge of the human spaceflight program beyond the information presented in the textbook. Therefore, you will “present” your paper to your fellow students by posting a 3-4 paragraph summary of your paper in the Week 7 forum. Since you will be “presenting” your paper to your fellow students, you may include pictures and tables of information in your paper to help you present your topic, but the inclusion of pictures and tables does not count toward the minimum required 6-page length. Additionally, you will answer at least one question that your fellow students may have about your topic. Each of you is required to ask at least two fellow students a question about their paper.

Because you are presenting your papers to each other, you may not report on the same topic as a fellow student. I strongly recommend that you decide on your topic early in the course and not wait until Week 7; otherwise, you may not get your first choice of topics.

Requirements for your paper are listed below:

  • Length: 6-8 pages (for the body of the paper), not including title page, and pages for citations (endnote format) and your list of references used.
  • Number of References: at least five (peer-reviewed journals, books, articles, websites, etc.).
  • Citation Style: Turabian – you may use footnotes, endnotes or parenthetical (in-text) citations. The choice is yours.

Both your paper and the "presentation" of your paper in the Week 7 forum are due by the end of Week 7 (by 11:55 pm (Eastern time zone) on Sunday).

Due Dates

All assignments in this course are given to you prior to the due date. The “due date” for all assignments is the week in which the assignment is due. For the purposes of this course, a “week” is defined as the time period between Monday – Sunday. The first week begins on the first day of the session and ends on 11:55 pm (Eastern time zone) the following Sunday. As a general rule, I will grade an assignment once everyone has submitted it. If you need additional time to complete an assignment, please contact me before the due date so we can discuss the situation and determine an acceptable resolution. If you submit an assignment after the due date without making prior arrangements with me, you will lose points from your final grade for the assignment.

NameGrade %
Exams #1-3 40.50 %
Exam #1 13.50 %
Exam #2 13.50 %
Exam #3 13.50 %
Final Exam 17.00 %
Final Exam 17.00 %
Forums 17.50 %
Week 1 (Introductions) Forum 2.19 %
Week 2 Forum 2.19 %
Week 3 Forum 2.19 %
Week 4 Forum 2.19 %
Week 5 Forum 2.19 %
Week 6 Forum 2.19 %
Week 7 Forum 2.19 %
Week 8 Forum 2.19 %
Research Paper 25.00 %
Paper 25.00 %
Unassigned 0.00 %
Research Paper (1) 0.00 %

This book is no longer provided in hard copy through APU/AMU. You can find an electronic copy of this textbook in two locations:

  1. In the classroom – weekly, links are provided to each of the assigned chapters in the Reading and Resources section of the Lesson Module

  1. The Ebrary Library on the APUS Online Library Web site
Book Title:To find the library e-book(s) req'd for your course, please visit to locate the eReserve by course #. You must be logged in to eCampus first to access the links.
Author: No Author Specified
Book Title:Spacefaring: The Human Dimension- e-book available in the APUS Online Library
Author:Harrison, Albert A.
Unit Cost:$58.65

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.