In collaboration with staff from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, we are thrilled to present a free, online, six-week course in Space Systems Engineering.

[Edit September 2020: This course originally ran in the spring of 2014. The course materials are still available on our legacy courses site.

Register now, then find out more (or vice versa).

Course Features

  • Lectures from NASA project manager Jeff Volosin, NASA mission systems engineer Mike Menzel, and Nobel Laureate Dr. John C. Mather
  • Google+ Hangouts with NASA personnel; the first, with Jeff Volosin, will be held on Friday, March. 7
  • Free certificate of completion
  • Optional project — winners of the project competition get a chance to tour NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. as well as participation in a Google+ Hangout with the instructors of the course.

About the Project

SSE101 is the culmination of months of work and collaboration between staff at the Saylor Academy headquarters and staff at NASA Goddard. The course is a step outside of our usual bill of fare, which tends to offer asynchronous courses located within a larger academic or professional development content (hey, vive la différence). We are excited to meet existing students and many new ones and to help a fantastic space agency connect with curious people around the world.

53 thoughts on “Announcement: Space Systems Engineering Course Starts March 3rd

  1. When can we have more details about the syllabus, project, and other details?
    I am a professor in the Lisbon University (Portugal) and next semester (from 10 Feb to 30 May) I’m going to be in charge (with more 2 other professors; 2 of us are members of the INCOSE) of a course on “Systems Analysis and Modeling” for the 3rd year of Computer Science/Engineering – (we call it “Informatics”). Our syllabus will cover the basics of Requirements Engineering, SysML, UML and BPMN (thus covering concerns on physical, logical and “organizational” systems). Therefore, I might consider proposing this course as an optional assignment to our +/-250 students, If we find it appropriate (we might recognize the final certificate of this course as a component for the final grading of our students).
    Really looking forward for more news on this interesting action!!!

    1. Hello José, although most of the details won’t be live on the site until March, I’m sure we can share information directly with you — we’d be happy if your students can use the course — or if you can make use of some of the materials. I will connect you via email to the course admins.

      1. Hi Sean Connor can you connect me to course admins because I am new and don’t know how it works

        1. Hello Muhammad, I can help you out! I see that you have registered for the course — basically, starting March 3rd, we will sent out an email each week containing instructions and other information for that week. At the same time, the learning materials will become available on the course website. There will be some video lectures recorded especially for the course as well as some assignments. You will be able to watch the video and do the assignments whenever is convenient for you. At the end of six weeks, you will be able to take an exam, and, if you have passed the course, earn your certificate.

          Some other things:

          • We will send you some emails before March to help you become oriented with and what to expect from the course
          • The course will also have opportunities to join in discussion forums, watch Google Hangouts on Air with some of the project managers and engineers behind the course, and work on a course project — although none of these are required for participation in the course.

          If for some reason you don’t hear from us this week by email (and we didn’t end up in your spam folder), let us know!

          And of course, please feel free to ask more questions you have before then.


        1. There are no charges and no commitment. If you think you may be interested in the course, please do sign up — if the course is not to your liking, you are free to walk away whenever you choose — naturally, I hope you will stay!

  2. Has Saylor started a process to certify classes such as this one for continuing education units for various certifications? For example, this class appears to meet the requirements for PDU’s needed for’s PMP exam.


    1. Hi Richard, CEUs (and other PD units) are not an active initiative, but have come up in idea sessions in the past. I’ll pass this to our Ed and Development teams, especially as this course will live on in a self-paced, less MOOC-y form after April. Thanks!

  3. Hi,
    I am very interested in this course but I wanted to make sure I don’t bite off more than I can chew. I don’t have a PhD or Master’s, only a Bachelor’s in Astronomy. Would this be sufficient for the content of the course?

    1. Hi Cam — no worries. The course is maybe not quite generally accessible, but it is not meant to be technical either; it is about process and team management in a space engineering setting. More like “management for engineers” with a decidedly aerospace flavor.

    1. It is difficult to say for certain, but this course is not designed to be overly-technical, focusing rather on teamwork, methods, and project management in an engineering setting.

  4. Hi, Is this course on a fixed timing or can I access it anytime during the day?I am pursuing my Bachelor’s engineering degree and my college timings are such that I am out for 12 hours a day.Will that be a problem?

    1. Hi! Not a problem at all. The lectures are pre-recorded, while the several Google Hangouts are live (but will be available afterwards). We expect that people will work on the materials throughout the week — you are welcome to get to the work when you are able.

  5. Hello everyone!

    Sean I believe I have successfully registered, although I can’t find the course in my Saylor e-profile account. I have downloaded the book, registered an account at, I have received my confirmation text from Saylor. Will I need to be at the hangouts as they happen or will I be able to review them at a different time to accommodate my schedule? And aside from establishing an account at google+ for the hangouts, will I need to have any other accounts established before the sessions begin?

    1. Hi Phillip,

      I believe that since this course is a bit of a special one, it is not listed in the ePortfolio as a course — although I will find out if can be listed as an elective for those who would like it to show up on the ePort “official” record. The hangouts will be archived on YouTube, so you can view them at any time, live or recorded. You won’t need a G+ account to view either way, but I suppose that to comment in either YouTube or the Hangout page would require an account there.

      1. Thanks! Sean, I’m looking forward to this. I hope NASA and Saylor Foundation will offer more class sessions of this learning discipline in the future.

  6. HI Sean, I want to register in this course so what will be procedure, and what will be the time table to attend this course ? You said there will be some video lectures as well, so am i able download them for offline with out using any You-tube links ?

    1. Hello Ahsan,

      You can register at — we will email assignments and announcements weekly over six weeks. The course will also stay up indefinitely afterward.

      Unfortunately, we do not have plans right now to offer the videos for download; they are hosted on YouTube. We know that this is not an ideal solution between bandwidth issues and YouTube being blocked in some places, and offering offline video is something we continue to consider.

    1. Hi Owen,

      The best way to sign up is via the enrollment page here:

      Enrolling, in this case, puts your email address on our course mailing list, which we will use to send out assignments and announcements.

      There are no special age requirements for the program.

  7. Can I know the timings of course and syllabus.
    Is there any Need of sign in for the course after 3rd March.
    If yes, then from where i would get the information.

  8. Hi Sean,
    I currently am a triple major in my second year of college with my degrees being in Civil Engineering, Geomatics, and Survey Technology. This semester I have a very heavy load where I found myself taking 26 credit hours plus I work. Do you think, A: This is something that I could manage as far as educational know-how is concerned, and B: Is the work load to intense that I wouldn’t effectively be able to keep up due to my other class requirements?

    1. Hi Christopher,
      (a) I think you can manage the content, which focuses a lot on the teamwork and other processes in systems engineering as it relates to space industry specifically;
      (b) you sound busy! The course is probably about 20-30 hours overall (so 4-6 hours per week). Your level of commitment is up to you — the materials will stay up indefinitely, so if the full experience right now doesn’t work, you could pick and choose what you pay attention to or just decide to come back later. Part of the fun and motivation is the time and people pressure, of course, but sometimes it’s too much at the wrong time.

      Anyway, completely up to you. If you can’t do it right now, I hope you come back later!

      1. Well thanks for the reply and I suppose I’m a gluten for punishment. I have jumped in feet first and so far so good. Thanks again.

  9. Hi Sean,
    The course was supposed to start from today ie the third of march but unfortunately i received no further emails. Would be glad if you could sort it out. Hope to hear from you soon

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Adhokshid, an email went out about seven hours ago with a subject title “Week 1 Assignments Space Systems Engineering”. It could be taking its time getting to you, or possibly got flagged as spam, but I will forward it to your email directly now. Thanks for letting me know!

    1. Hi Siddharth, and sorry for the long wait on a reply! Many of the non-video materials are in pdf or are basic HTML and can be turned into pdf easily. We do not have a single “book” of materials, however.

  10. helllio joes……. i’m student i like space system cource ….. select me ..
    thank for all of you

    1. Sure thing! We’re all non-geniuses here 😉

      So, some parts may be tougher than others, of course, but there is no reason you can’t follow along and get whatever you can from it…that’s the beauty of an open course like this — we don’t hold you to any special obligations or standard. Just come, learn, and try your best!

  11. respected sir, i am also intersted to learn this course . i am student of electrical engineering. can i register for this course now? i wan to learn this . i have extreme passion

    1. You can indeed still register for this course, and you may choose to try to catch up with the other students or to work through the course at your own pace. The materials for this course will stay online and available to you after the month of April.

  12. Respected sir, I am still student 11th std. I am interested in aerospace engineering. Can i register for this course now? thank u!

    1. Yes, Harshada, you certainly can, and you will be able to catch up by visiting the course site at and viewing the video playlists. The course materials, including the quizzes and final exam, will also be available online after the end of the scheduled course for you to work through at your own pace.

  13. Hi, Sir!
    I am currently taking up this SSE101 course. I am just curious, will this course continue to Part 2, 3 and so on, because it says on on google docs syllabus of this course that it is SSE101: Survey of Systems Engineering – Part 1? If there will be Parts after this, will those be the continuations of the Part 1 or the ‘Part’ only says about the batch the course was conducted? Thank you! I really love the course and the cool school set-up, and appreciate the conductors, facilitators, contributors, the minds behind this course!

    1. Hello Pauline — first, I’m sorry for the long wait on a response. Second, thanks for your contributions in social media to the other students of #SSE101. Really…thank you!

      For your question, the “1” primarily refers to where the course would fit in a sequence of materials; that is, the number reflects that this is an introductory course designed to connect you to the essential concepts of systems engineering.

      Unfortunately, we do not have plans to produce a Part 2, but who knows what the future may bring from us, from NASA, or from someone else entirely? Space continues to inspire and delight people, and those in a position to share what they know are constantly stepping up. The classic Carl Sagan program Cosmos is being produced anew with Neil deGrasse Tyson in front of the camera, and physicist/mathematician Brian Greene is posting video courses in theoretical physics with two tracks: math and non-math (at

      I hope that answers your question, but if not…you clearly know where to find us. Thanks for sticking out the course this far, and my continued best wishes to you.

      1. Hi Sir Connor,
        Thank you for the info! I hope there will still be Part 2 and so on for SSE101. Yeah, who knows. I have seen the course outline of SE (from a link posted on that is widely used in different schools, and NASA| ‘s SSE has similar lesson flow. You’re welcome, too, Sir! i think you were referring to a google hangout info i shared. Thanks! Bless.

      2. Hello Sean,

        I coursed the Part 1 and I really loved the course. I would like to ask, please, that if you continue the SSE101 wiht Part 2, please, send a notification to the persons who finished Part 1, I really would like to get more knowledger.

        Thanks a lot and cheers

  14. I enrolled in SSE101 but probably should disenroll. I haven’t had the time to finish reading and take the tests. I don’t see it on my ePortfolio nor can I find any link on disenrolling from the course. Is there a way to do this?

    1. Hi Derek,
      The course has no limit for completing the tasks incorporated in each Unit (except for the Mars Sample Return mission project w/c is optional and due on April 18th), so you might not want to unenroll. The lessons are too cool and comprehensible at the same time, yet you’d still learn new things and discover a different perspective. You might have to checkout your ePortfolio (found on the top of the website) if you appear to be enrolled or not. I think you have signed up for the course but have not formally enrolled on the ePortfolio yet. If you change your mind, you can still catch up. As per Sir Rose: “There is no deadline for completing the final exam — the course and all the assessments will always be available on our site.” Thanks. Hope this helped.

  15. Dear frineds,
    which is the format of the final exam? Is it also a quiz or some ellaborated questions?

    Many thanks,

    1. Hi Ramon, the final exam is a series of fifty multiple choice questions, which consist mostly of the choose-only-one-best-answer variety, but have a few choose-one-or-more-correct-answers questions. You have two hours from the time you open the exam to submit your answers, and you will be able to retake the exam in the future if necessary.

      It is worth 40% of your course grade, with each of the weekly quizzes worth %10 (thus the quizzes together are 60% of the course grade).

      Good luck, and thanks for taking the course!

  16. Hi, I want to take this course but when I click the link to the course registration page I get this message:””Error 404 – Not Found Page Not Found”” Why?

    1. Oh my god, forget it, I didnt realize it said MARCH and not MAY! Too bad..

      1. Hello Frida,

        While the course “ended” in the concurrent sense, it will not be taken down from our site. All the course material including video lectures, readings, discussion prompts, as well as the quizzes and exam, will always be available at You can start the course whenever you like and work through the material at your own pace. The main course content is the YouTube playlists which are embedded under each week. From the videos, there are linked readings and activities, and at the end of the last video of each playlist, there is also an end of unit quiz.

        Please let us know if you have any questions. We hope you enjoy the course!

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