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Last updated:

October 4, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


This course is a detailed technical and historical exploration of the Apollo project to “fly humans to the moon and return them safely to earth” as an example of a complex engineering system.

Emphasis is on how the systems worked, the technical and social processes that produced them, mission operations, and historical significance. Guest lectures are featured by MIT-affiliated engineers who contributed to and participated in the Apollo missions. Students work in teams on a final project analyzing an aspect of the historical project to articulate and synthesize ideas in engineering systems.

Course Curriculum

  • Introduction and overview Unlimited
  • Apollo as a complex system Unlimited
  • Historical/technical analysis of engineering systems Unlimited
  • Systems engineering and atlas Unlimited
  • Organizing research from NACA to NASA Unlimited
  • Sputnik, Mercury, and the Cold War Unlimited
  • Kennedy’s decision: From politics to engineering specs Unlimited
  • The LOR decision Unlimited
  • The Soviet moon program Unlimited
  • Gemini and early Apollo engineering Unlimited
  • Apollo guidance and control Unlimited
  • Astronautical guidance Unlimited
  • Engineering the LEM Unlimited
  • Designing a landing Unlimited
  • NASA’s current moon plans Unlimited
  • Apollo software Unlimited
  • Apollo 11 Unlimited
  • Apollo 14: An astronaut’s view Unlimited
  • Apollo 12 and group project freetime Unlimited
  • Covering Apollo: The role of the press Unlimited
  • Life support and human factors I Unlimited
  • Bob Parker: Scientist-astronauts and lunar science Unlimited
  • Student presentations wrap-up Unlimited
  • Final class Unlimited

About the instructor

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology