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Back to Kinematics: Describing the Motions of Spacecraft

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Kinematics: Describing the Motions of Spacecraft by University of Colorado Boulder

71 ratings
21 reviews

About the 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.


Oct 19, 2017

This is a great course for beginners in kinematics, I enjoy it and learn so much. However, you need to have a good math background.

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1 - 23 of 23 Reviews for Kinematics: Describing the Motions of Spacecraft

By Musab N A

Feb 08, 2018

Great professor. The material is very focused on space systems, but can easily be used in other robotics applications

By Daniel d S

Oct 16, 2017

A practically useful and wholly positive learning experience from a passionate professor. I am working as an engineer in the space industry already, and took this course to patch up some cloudy areas of understanding. I got quite the bang for my buck.

The material is taught in a style that leans towards applicable theory for the well-educated engineer. The videos are recordings of in-classroom lectures from UC Boulder, a university know for it's tight history of collaboration with NASA everywhere from Mars to Earth's outer Magnetosphere. In this course you will cover the necessary engineering physics to describe orbiting and rotating reference frames, attitude coordinate systems, and methods for determining spacecraft attitude from on-board sensors.

My educational background is from outside an aerospace engineering department, and I had no problem keeping up. I encourage not only aerospace engineers, but anyone working in space (scientists, programmers, operations personnel) to try this course.

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 Troy W

Feb 25, 2018

Good way to teach the course.

Could have been better if the professor could stop the urge to use vectricx notation.

By Shounak D

Feb 04, 2018

Wish every Professor taught like this guy. Excellent. Fun course.Thank you !

By Andrea M

Jun 28, 2017

One of the best courses that I have ever done in coursera. Schaub can explain advanced concepts in a very pragmatic and easy-to-understand way. Suggested for professionals already with a Master degree's in Engineering, or student with solid basis of Geometry and Mathematical Programming (e.g. Matlab, Mathematica)

By Brian P

Jun 27, 2017

This is a great course for working through the book, "Analytical Mechanics of Space Systems" that I've owned for many years but never got around to working through it at the level of detail involved in working through the problems on paper, instead of just in my head. Prof Schaub does an excellent job of filling in the gaps in the text and making it more understandable, but it does really, really help to have the book to work through along with the class. Even with a background in physics, math, and engineering, I immediately learned something new about how to solve kinematics problems that I should have known but didn't. The concept of generalized/canonical coordinate systems never made sense to me until this class, where for some reason the explanation just clicked and I knew how it worked like flipping a switch. That knowledge alone was worth the price of the certificate. Continuing on to work the follow-on courses and perhaps complete the specialization.

By Samuel L

Jun 22, 2019

Course material is great, Prof Schaub is an excellent lecturer, but one thing that makes this course disappointing is that neither himself nor his TA is ever around to interact with the course mates. I was expecting a bit more activity with the mentorship and some QNA, but all of the cross-checkings of work are between classmates (so it could be the case of the blind leading the blind really...) and we are pretty much left alone. This makes it no different than watching videos on our own on Khan Academy or Youtube (zero interaction really). Otherwise, the content and material is good and well structured. Disclaimer - this is grad level stuff, so make sure your linear algebra and calculus is pretty solid.

By Rashi J

Jun 03, 2019

if you are an aerospace engineering student and would like to get into orbital mechanics/ control and dynamics of satellites or celestial bodies, it's a decent course (series) to take.

By Aleksandr G

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 W

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 R

Feb 17, 2019

Serious stuff.

By Nicolás P

Feb 08, 2019

Very good material and exercises!

By Jakub B

Dec 28, 2018

Fantastic course with a fantastic lecturer

By Clemens R

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 Vishnuvardhan S

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.


Feb 04, 2018


By María A A B

Oct 19, 2017

This is a great course for beginners in kinematics, I enjoy it and learn so much. However, you need to have a good math background.

By Saju T M

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.

By Pratik W

Sep 13, 2017

Great Course! Given the advanced nature of this subject, Prof Schaub has successfully carved out an extremely neat course structure. His lectures provide valuable and clear insights into the concepts at play. The assignments are thorough and engaging as well. This course has already added substantial value to my background in Aerospace. I'm looking forward to enrolling in other similar courses!


May 05, 2017

wonderful course. very interesting