Akin’s Laws

Akin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design. Hard-won words of wisdom, offered freely.

I’ve been involved in spacecraft and space systems design and development for my entire career, including teaching the senior-level capstone spacecraft design course, for ten years at MIT and now at the University of Maryland for more than two decades. These are some bits of wisdom that I have gleaned during that time, some by picking up on the experience of others, but mostly by screwing up myself. I originally wrote these up and handed them out to my senior design class, as a strong hint on how best to survive my design experience. […]

  1. Past experience is excellent for providing a reality check. Too much reality can doom an otherwise worthwhile design, though.

  2. The odds are greatly against you being immensely smarter than everyone else in the field. If your analysis says your terminal velocity is twice the speed of light, you may have invented warp drive, but the chances are a lot better that you’ve screwed up.

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