Space Systems

Why space systems?

Space systems are vehicles and infrastructure working together to perform a task in the space environment. We depend on space systems every day for communication, navigation and weather prediction services. Space systems improve our knowledge of the physical universe through celestial observation and planetary exploration. Space systems also provide intelligence and surveillance that is critical for the national defense.

Space systems typically exhibit high levels of subsystem interaction, have low design and performance margins, and require high reliability. Autonomy is increasingly important for space systems, particularly for those operating far from Earth.

What is going on in space systems research at Illinois?

Research in space systems at Illinois includes theoretical, software, and hardware projects focused on space guidance, navigation, and control; entry, descent, and landing systems; planetary exploration systems; orbital mechanics; space mission design and optimization; robotics; autonomy; and university-class flight projects. Current research sponsors include NASA, NSF, NIH, DARPA, AFRL, DHS, ARL, DoE and industry. Research in space systems at Illinois is conducted by a diverse team of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students across the College of Engineering.

Who are the faculty members in this area?

  • Timothy W. Bretl - Aerospace information technology, systems, and control, with a focus on robotics and autonomous vehicles
  • Grace Xingxin Gao - Systems, signals and control with a focus on satellite navigation and autonomous vehicles
  • Alexander Ghosh- Computational astrodynamics, parallel numerical methods applied to astrodynamics, attitude determination and control, mission planning, optical navigation, spaceflight systems, mission design and optimization
  • Koki Ho - Space Logistics Design/Mission Planning, Astrodynamics, Cubesats/Small Satellites, Optimization, Systems Engineering
  • Julia Laystrom-Woodard-
  • Deborah Levin- Theoretical particle approaches to modeling extreme thermochemical non-equilibrium, micro-propulsion, ionic liquids, electrosprays, theoretical particle approaches to modeling hypersonic laminar shock – boundary layer interactions, particle approaches applied to chemically reacting flows, high performance computing, propulsion, thermal protection materials, space environment, high-energy chemically-reacting flows
  • Zachary R. Putnam - Space systems; Entry, descent, and landing systems; Space guidance, navigation, and control (GNC); flight mechanics; modeling and simulation, mission design

Courses in this area

  • AE 402 – Orbital Mechanics
  • AE 403 – Spacecraft Attitude Control
  • AE 434 – Rocket Propulsion
  • AE 435 – Electric Propulsion
  • AE 442 – Space Systems Design I
  • AE 443 – Space Systems Design II