Review: MITx: 16.885x–Engineering the Space Shuttle

This fall I decided to spend some of my free time doing something different, so I signed up for an Edx/MITx online course on the Space Shuttle.

It was fascinating. If you have any interest in the details of how the Space Shuttle from an engineering standpoint, you will love this course. The course is run/hosted by former astronaut and MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics Jeff Hoffman, and wherever possible the actual lectures are done by ex-shuttle engineers or managers. Main engines? Lecture by J.R. Thompson, manager of the Main Engine Projects office at Marshall. Flight control system? Phil Hattis, one of the leads on the system. Mission control? Wayne Hale, flight director for 41 missions. Saturn and shuttle? Chris Kraft.

A brief overview:

Section 1: How the Space Shuttle was Originally Designed and Approved

  • Lecture 1: Origins of the Space Shuttle – Dale Myers
  • Lecture 2: Development of the Space Shuttle – Aaron Cohen
  • Lecture 3: Early History of the Shuttle and NASA’s Relationship with the Military – Bob Seamans
  • Lecture 4: Political History of the Space Shuttle – John Logsdon
Section 2: Space Shuttle Sub-Systems
  • Lecture 5: Introduction to Space Shuttle Orbiter Subsystems – Aaron Cohen
  • Lecture 6: Orbiter Structures & Thermal Protection System – Tom Moser
  • Lecture 7: Space Shuttle Main Engines – J.R. Thompson
  • Lecture 8: Space Shuttle Aerodynamic Design – Bass Redd
  • Lecture 9: Aerothermodynamics – Bob Ried
  • Lecture 10: Space Shuttle OMS/RCS APU/Hydraulics – Henry Pohl
  • Lecture 11: Thermal Control and Life Support System – Walt Guy
  • Lecture 12: Mechanical Systems and RMS – Alan Louviere
  • Lecture 13: Shuttle Flight Control System – Phil Hattis
  • Lecture 14: Systems Engineering Review, Matrix Management, and Cost Estimation – Aaron Cohen

Section 3: Operating the Space Shuttle

  • Lecture 15: Space Shuttle Training and Mission Description – Jeff Hoffman
  • Lecture 16: Payload Operations and Systems Engineering – Tony
  • Lecture 17: Space Shuttle Launch Operations – Bob Sieck
  • Lecture 18: Space Shuttle Abort Modes, Payload Bay Doors, EVA – Jeff Hoffman
  • Lecture 19: Mission Control – Wayne Hale
  • Lecture 20: Test Flying the Space Shuttle – Gordon Fullerton
  • Lecture 21: Columbia Accident – Sheila Widnall
  • Lecture 22: Hubble Space Telescope and the Space Shuttle – Jeff Hoffman
  • Lecture 23: Apollo and the Space Shuttle – Chris Kraft
  • Lecture 24: Retrospective on the Space Shuttle – Jeff Hoffman/John Logsdon/Wayne Hale

So, what do you think ?