Hang Woon Lee receives NSF fellowship


Debra Levey Larson

Hang Woon Lee
Hang Woon Lee
This year’s National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program received over 12,000 applicants. From them, 2,000 award offers were made, including one to Hang Woon Lee, a graduate student in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois. Assistant Professor Koki Ho is Lee’s advisor. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

The title of Lee’s research project is “Integrated Small Satellite Design Methodology and Scalable Reliability Assessment Framework.” Its goal is to optimize the performance reliability while minimizing the cost of small satellites.

“Small satellites are not suitable for missions with a high risk for failure,” Lee said. “But small satellites are beneficial because they are inexpensive and can be produced quickly.”

Lee’s project will study mission designs for deploying small satellites in swarms or constellations. When one fails, it can be swapped out with a new one.

Because of the high-failure rate of small satellites, in the first phase of the project Lee plans to construct a bi-layered small satellite system model to extract and extrapolate system failure behaviors and patterns from the extensive small satellite anomalies historical database. In the next phase of the project Lee will focus on satellite design, including reliability, performance, size, cost, etc. to determine the optimal design.

The third phase of the project will be to develop a framework to normalize a reliability-embedded swarm design approach under orbital uncertainties and potential emergent behaviors. “One of the expected outcomes from this phase is that by fully exploiting the risk-taking philosophy of small satellites, a perspective on the swarm reliability could be shifted from single satellite to swarm.

Lee received his Bachelor of Science degree from MIT, then interned and worked for about a year with SpaceX and Planet, before coming to the U of I. He will receive his master’s degree this summer and begin working on a Ph.D. in the fall.