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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: SPST415 Course ID: 3161 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This course elaborates on Space Station flight operations, its supporting elements and planned systems. Students will study commercial applications, logistical support, maintenance and servicing design concepts. (Prerequisite: SPST200 or SPST300)

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
10/26/20 - 04/02/21 04/05/21 - 05/30/21 Spring 2021 Session B 8 Week session
01/25/21 - 07/02/21 07/05/21 - 08/29/21 Summer 2021 Session B 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

CO-1 Examine the early history of space station design from both the U.S. and Soviet perspective.

CO-2 Describe the trials, tribulations, accomplishments, and lessons learned associated with Skylab, Salyut, and Mir space programs.

CO-3 Examine NASA’s post-Apollo strategy and President Reagan’s initiative to establish the U.S.’s leadership role in space.

CO-4 Describe the evolution of Mir and recall the various accomplishments of this permanently inhabited research space station.

CO-5 Describe the international efforts and struggling beginning of the ISS.

CO-6 Describe the purpose and objective of each ISS element/module.

CO-7 Describe and identify the function of various systems, subsystems, and architectures.

CO-8 Describe the ISS operational maintenance philosophy.

CO-9 Describe the four planning phases of the increment planning process and the associated activities and products.

Forums/Class Participation

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. There is no required length for your response to your fellow students. However, your response needs 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. With the exception of the Virtual Introductions forum, you will also be required to reply to at least one of your fellow students and ask that student a question about what he/she has written. If you are asked questions, I expect you to answer at least one of the questions. 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 post, ask a question to at least one student 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 60 points
  • Response/reply to your fellow students: worth a maximum of 20 points
  • Answer to a fellow student: worth a maximum of 20 points

All of your postings must be completed by the forum’s due date, unless you make a previous arrangement with me for a new due date for the forum. Specifically, for the Week 2-8 forums, your initial postings are due no later than Wednesday (11:59:59 p.m. Eastern time zone) of the week in which the forum is due. 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).


Quizzes 1-5 are not comprehensive and only cover the assigned reading/objectives between the previous quiz and that quiz. No proctors are required for the quizzes. Although open book, it is virtually impossible to pass the quizzes without first completing all of the assigned reading and looking through the assigned websites. The format for each quiz is a combination of multiple-choice, matching, true/false, fill-in-the-blank and short answer/essay questions. 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.). The quizzes are 75 minutes in length. Once completed, no interaction between students regarding quiz topics is allowed!


You will complete two worksheets during the course. The first worksheet covers the Skylab program and the second worksheet covers a high-level ISS program document and the current crew rotation strategy. The worksheets are designed to help guide you through the subject material and to help you focus on the more relevant information. The Skylab program worksheet is due at the end of Week 1 and covers the material in the two Skylab program websites listed in the Course Outline for Week 1. The second worksheet is due at the end of Week 5 and covers the ISS program document found in the Week 5 Lesson Module. The worksheets can be found in the Test & Quizzes area of the class.

Final Exam

The final exam covers the entire course and is two hours long. No proctor is required.

Research Paper

For your research paper, you have an option concerning the topic of the paper. You may choose on your own a topic related to space stations, such as past space station designs (Salyut, Mir, Skylab) or a proposal for a future space station design. You could focus on a particular system used on a space station or you could address a broader issue such as the militarization of space stations. These are just a few examples.

Your other option is to write a paper about how the ISS should be used to support human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. Based on recommendations in the Augustine Committee report, President Obama, in conjunction with NASA and the other international partners, has decided to extend operation of the ISS until 2020 (and possibly longer). In your paper, you would discuss how the ISS could be used to prepare and/or support human spaceflights to possible destinations such as the moon, an asteroid or Mars. What sort of technology could be tested onboard ISS and what type of research could be conducted to better prepare for these missions beyond low Earth orbit? Additionally, you could discuss whether or not the current mission profile on the ISS (six-month stays) should be modified to support the future missions outlined in the “Flexible Path” concept proposed by the Augustine Committee (a copy of their report is in the Reference Materials folder in the Resources area of the class). 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 2.

Requirements for your paper are listed below:

  • Length: 10-12 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 seven (peer-reviewed journals, books, articles, websites, etc.).
  • Citation Style: Turabian – you may use footnotes, endnotes or parenthetical (in-text) citations. The choice is yours.

Your paper is due by the end of Week 7 (by 11:59:59 p.m. (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 11:59:59 p.m. (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.

Maintaining Contact

During this course, we can maintain contact in several ways. The first and best way is to send me a message using the classroom message system; the next way is via e-mail; and the last way is by phone. Please don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind phone calls. But since we are all on different schedules, I ask that you send me a message first to arrange a time to talk. However, most questions are best answered in writing. That way, the information can be referred to again in the future. And questions about the course are best discussed in the classroom, so I ask that you send me a message in the classroom to do this.

NameGrade %
Forum Participation 20.00 %
Week 1 (Introductions) Forum 2.50 %
Week 2 Forum 2.50 %
Week 3 Forum 2.50 %
Week 4 Forum 2.50 %
Week 5 Forum 2.50 %
Week 6 Forum 2.50 %
Week 7 Forum 2.50 %
Week 8 Forum 2.50 %
Quizzes 20.00 %
Quiz #1 20.00 %
Quiz #2 0.00 %
Quiz #3 0.00 %
Quiz #4 0.00 %
Quiz #5 0.00 %
Worksheets 20.00 %
Worksheet #2 - ISS Crew Rotation and GR&C Document 20.00 %
Worksheet #1 - Skylab Program 0.00 %
Research Paper 20.00 %
Research paper 20.00 %
Final Exam 20.00 %
Final Exam 20.00 %

Book Title: The International Space Station: Building for the Future-e-book available in the APUS Online Library
Author: Catchpole, John
Publication Info: Praxis
ISBN: 9780387781440

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: N/A
Publication Info: N/A

Book Title: Reference Guide to the International Space Station-Available free online
Author: Kitmacher, Gary
Publication Info: NASA

Book Title:To find the library e-book(s) req'd for your course, please visit to locate the eReserve by course #.
Author: No Author Specified
Book Title:Reference Guide to the International Space Station-Available free online
Publication Info:NASA
Author:Kitmacher, Gary
Book Title:The International Space Station: Building for the Future-e-book available in the APUS Online Library
Author:Catchpole, John
Unit Cost:$27.16

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.