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The Conquest of Space: Space Exploration and Rocket Science (19/20) (T2)

Enrollment in this course is by invitation only

About this course

Space exploration plays a major role in the history of humankind. The cultural, political and sociological repercussions are extraordinary, and the amount of resources dedicated to space exploration is enormous. This aerospace course is a first step for those interested in learning more about the history of the space and the impact of space exploration on our daily lives.

Each week we will focus on a major chapter in the history of space exploration accompanied by an introduction to the relevant technical topics to fully understand these historical developments. During the seven weeks of the course, we will follow the technical, political and cultural contexts that lead to the birth of the space age, uncover the evolution of space exploration from competition to cooperation in the Apollo and post-Apollo era and finally, analyze current trends in space exploration.

By successfully completing this course, you will acquire the critical tools to understand the key events and developments of the Space Age. You will learn to solve basic technical and engineering problems of space travel, rocket propulsion, space systems, and human space flight.

Practical information

  • Language: English
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • ECTS: 3
  • Assessment: Continuous evaluation (100 % of the final grade)

Additional information about the residential course available here.

Learning objectives

The learners should learn from this course:

  • The main milestones in the history of astronautics
  • The interactions between astronautics and culture, politics and science
  • Fundamentals of aerospace engineering, including how to move in space and how rockets work
  • The key aspects of space systems and the space environment
  • The current trends and future projects in space exploration.

Course Structure

Week 1. The First Dreamers and Visionaries. Frau im Monde (1929)

Week 2. The First Missiles. The Vengeance Weapon V-2 (1944)

Week 3. The Dawn of the Space Age. Sputnik (1957)

Week 4. The Giant Leap. Apollo 11 (1969)

Week 5. Space Cooperation. Birth of ESA (1975)

Week 6. Using Space for Mankind. Exploitation of Space

Week 7. Looking Ahead. Ambition (2015)


Manuel Sanjurjo Rivo

Dr. Manuel Sanjurjo Rivo is an assistant professor at the Aerospace Department of UC3M. His research interests range from celestial mechanics to space tether dynamics or trajectory optimization. He teaches several grade and master courses in flight dynamics and astrodynamics.

In particular, he has been teaching the classroom version of “The Conquest of Space” for three years. In this course, he presents the historical context of the birth and development of spaceflight and guides through the political, social, and cultural impact of space exploration in the society.