Orion Research Lab

MEET THE TEAM

Faculty

Dr. Markus Wilde

Lab Director

Markus Wilde received his M.S. (2008) and Ph.D. (2012) from TU Munich, Germany. He was accepted into the NRC Research Associateship Program in 2013, as postdoctoral associate at the Spacecraft Robotics Laboratory at the Naval Postgraduate School. In 2014, he joined the Florida Institute of Technology. His research focus lies on autonomous and telerobotic capabilities for rendezvous and capture of space objects.

 Dr. Brian Kish

Brian Kish earned a Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is a graduate of the Air Force Test Pilot School, and has accumulated over 1300 flight hours as a Flight Test Engineer in 49 different aircraft during his 20 year Air Force career. He held leadership positions at three Flight Test units and served as the Vice Chair of the Education Department of the Air Force Test Pilot School from 2005-2008. Since retiring from the Air Force in 2011, Dr. Kish has taught Control Systems, Aircraft Stability & Control, Aircraft Performance, Experimental Aerodynamics and Avionics courses at Florida Tech. He is a member of AIAA’s Flight Test Technical Committee and the Society of Flight Test Engineers. He is a commercial glider pilot and has private pilot license for single-engine land aircraft.

Dr. Kimberly Demoret

Kimberly B. Demoret, Ph.D., P.E., is responsible for the Aerospace Engineering Capstone Design curriculum at the Florida Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the university in 2015, she spent nine years working at Kennedy Space Center on development of launch systems in support of NASA's space exploration goals. She also spent 20 years as an officer in the US Air Force working in many fields, including space launch, aerospace ground test, flight dynamics research, and system acquisition. Her thesis and dissertation addressed vibration suppression techniques appropriate for aerospace applications, including constrained layer damping and the introduction of local modes in large space structures.

Doctoral Students

Trupti Mahendrakar
Trupti is currently a PhD student in Aerospace Engineering at Florida Tech. She is also a lab coordinator of the ORION lab. Trupti completed her Bachelors in Aerospace Engineering - Astronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She was the recipient of the 2017 AIAA Wernher Von Braun award. Upon graduating, Trupti worked at Delta Air Lines as an Aerospace Engineer. She is also the veyr first student who was admitted to the direct PhD program in Aerospace Engineering at Florida Tech. Her passion of Space Robotics and Astrodynamics has motivated her to do research in AI (artificial intelligence) methods to enable autonomous operations of satellites to further space exploration. Her future goal is to be an Astronaut. 

Masters Students

Tahir Kanchwala Tahir received his B.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering and currently pursuing M.Sc. from Florida Tech. He is working as a Research/Teaching assistant with a variety of hands on experience in modeling, experimentation and testing. Tahir is specializing in propulsion with the goal to develop vehicles of the future, which would feature greater efficiency, accuracy and be powered sustainably. He is currently working with the FAA to develop validated performance estimations and in flight-safety assessment tools for pilot decision making (at different levels of automation) and a means of compliance for upcoming urban air mobility eVTOL aircraft under FAR part 23. Tahir is also conducting research in small satellite propulsion to design and validate a solid- pulse based thruster for small satellites.  

  

Bhumika Patel Bhumika Patel earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology. She has specialized her masters in flight dynamics and controls systems. Bhumika has also conducted a parametric design study for an Earth-Mars Cycler spacecraft. Such a Cycler has the potential to substantially reduce the effort and cost for long-term exploration and civilization on Mars. She also has hands-on experience on working with small satellites, developing human-robots interface, and machine learning. Bhumika is currently involved with the DJI drone team to develop a closed loop controller and user-inteface for teleopreations. Her area of interests is focused on machine learning, autonomous robotics, and modern controls.

Other Masters Students

 

Reed Kennaday 

Ryan Capozzi

Undergraduate Students

   Kyle Watkins Kyle Watkins is a senior in Aerospace Engineering (focused in astronoutics) at Florida Tech. His research in the ORION lab focuses on building infrastructure for future experiments and projects. His experience with the air bearing vehicles has led him to be interested in control systems and attitude determination. Kyle is also working with the DJI M100 drone team on developing a complex control system. Working in the ORION lab has cultivated his interest in satellites and helped him refine his field of interest. He always finds great learning opportunities through interesting projects in the lab.
Nathan Fischer Nathan is currently working on the Maneuver Kinematics Simulator gantry system. He is involved in the installation and integration of a laser distance sensor to deliver necessary data to simulate path planning, to construct theoretical spaceflight occurrences, and to determine alternative configurations of design. Nathan is interested in space vehicles and future commercialization of space travel. He also likes to take part in projects that contribute to the progression of space-related fields.
Patrycja Bachleda
Patrycja is currently oursuing her B.Sc. degree in software engineering at Florida Tech. Her work is to use an open source software to establish network communications between the advanced equipments used in the ORION lab. Her work is also focused on understanding and developing communication systems for current and future projects. Patrycja's expertise in communication field will help towards network security. 

Other Undergraduate Students

Jasrayman Thind

Jasrayman is currently studying aeropace engineering.

Current Primary Focus: Nozzles

Jessica Cutler 

Jessica is currently an undergraduate work study, and is studying aeropace engineering.

Current Primary Focus: Nozzles 

Louis Jones

Louis is currently an undergraduate work study, and is studying aeropace engineering. 

Current Primary Focus: Pantherbot

Emily Milne 

Emily is currently an undergraduate work study, and is studying aeropace engineering.

Current Primary Focus: Nozzles/Drones

Sam Lovelance

Sam is currently an undergraduate work study, and is studying aeropace engineering.

Ashley Rivkin  

Ashley is currently an undergraduate work study, and is studying aeropace engineering.

Current Primary Focus: Pantherbot

Alumni - Graduated Students

   Stephen Kwok-Choon

B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D.  Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2019

Stephen Kwok Choon's dissertation was focused on hardware-in-the-loop testbed for the dynamics of spacecraft rendezvous and capture (Bob and Charlie). He joined Embraer Executive Jets as a Quality Engineer in February 2012. He was involved with the certification, documentation, and corrective action for the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 Jets. Stephen is currenly working as research associate at Naval Pstgraduate School which provides defense-focused classifies studies and interdisciplinary research opportunities.

  Larissa Balestrero Machado

B.Sc. and M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2019

Larissa Balestrero developed and optimized flight controller for aerocapture at Mars and conducting a parametric design study for a Crew Transfer Vehicle utilizing aerocapture to move a crew from a Earth-Mars Cycler spacecraft into Low Mars Orbit. She also received an opportunity to conduct experiments on aerocapture in association with National Institute of Aerospace. She was a member of senior capstone design Project Cerberus team. Larissa is currently working as a research assistant at Bundeswehr University located in Munich, Germany while pursuing her Ph.D. degree.

  Max Skuhersky

B.Sc. and M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2019

Max Skuhersky worked on conducting research in cycling pathways to occupy Mars (CPOM), studying the fluid mechanics and motion dynamics of orbital fuel depots, and developing a simulation model for the power requirements of Urban Aerial Mobility eVTOL vehicles. He was also a member of senior capstone design Project Cerberus team. He is currenly working with Isar Aerospace, one of the fastest-growing space start-up comapny in Germany. Max is contrbuting towards developing next generation rockets for sustainable access to space.

May Nyein Chan

B.Sc. and M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2018

May Chan has specialized in Flight Mechanics and Control Systems. For her M.S. thesis, May developed and tested a predictive display (AHMI) for aircraft flight path and attitude to enable teleoperation of unmanned aerial vehicles with significant time delays. Her research on AHMI has been carried forward by the DJI drone team to develop advanced control applications for UAVs. Her interest of research included strategic design methods, creative design solutions, and application of modern control theories for dynamics of Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) aircrafts.

Zachary Davis

B.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2020

Zachary was designing components of the DAWN 6 DOF motion dynamics simulator and assisting in their fabrication.

Brian Nyffenegger

B.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2019

Brian has helped in developing a laboratory prototype for a robotic boom for refueling upper stages in orbit. He also worked on analyzing spacecraft-manipulator dynamics and developed simulations and models for eVTOL aircraft performance and stability analysis. 

 
Wesley Howell

B.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2020

Wesley worked on designing components of the DAWN 6 DOF motion dynamics simulator and assisting in their fabrication. He is currenly working as a structural design engineer at Lockheed Martin. 

Branden Blackwell 

M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2019

Branden Blackwell worked on developing processing algorithms to use a Microsoft Kinect 2 sensor as sensor for final approach, formation flight and capture of a non-cooperative space object. The algorithm is to be used to enable in-orbit refueling of satellites and upper stages. Branden is currently working at Millanium Engineering, a high-end contractor company providing services to NASA.

Alexander Schmid

Alexander Schmid was a visting scholar from TU Munich, Germany. He was conducting research for his M.S. thesis in Aerospace Engineering. His topic is the design and analysis of an attitude control system to enable distributed observations for local space situational awareness using CubeSats.

Christopher Brett

M.Sc. Space Science and Technology, Luleå Tekniska Universitet

Kendrick Buchala

M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2018

Kendrick Buchala wrote his M.S. thesis on developing a Zero-Effort-Velocity/Zero-Effort-Miss controller for landing a quadcopter on a pitching flight deck. Kendrick currently works at Lockheed Martin.

      Maria Grulich

M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Technische Universität München, 2016

Maria Grulich graduated with a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from TU Munich in 2016. She conducted the research for her M.S. thesis in the ORION lab. Her topic was to develop a fuzzy logic controller for final approach and docking with a non-cooperative target object. Maria currently works at ESA in Cologne, Germany.

Johannes Gutsmiedl

M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Technische Universität München, 2017

Johannes graduated with a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from TU Munich in 2017. He conducted the research for his M.S. thesis in the ORION lab, with focus on using the OptiTrack system in a closed loop control system for the Maneuver Kinematics Simulator.

Shingo Kunito 

B.Sc. and M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2018

For his M.S. thesis, Shingo Kunito designed and analyzed a docking mechanism for small satellites. The docking mechanism was specifically designed to enable the bidiretional transfer of power, data and cold-gas propellant. Shingo currently works for Toyota in Japan.

Florent LaPorte

M.Sc. Mechanical Engineering, École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et des Microtechniques

During an engineering internship, Florent LaPorte contributed to the development of the Maneuver Kinematics Simulator.

Stuart LoPresti

B.Sc. Physics, Florida Tech

Stuart LoPresti volunteered as research assistant in the ORION Lab, assisting in the development and testing of the air-bearing vehicles.

Francois Morvan

M.Sc. Mechanical Engineering, L’institut Français de Mécanique Avancée

During an engineering internship, Francois Morvan developed the gripper mechanisms used on the air-bearing vehicles.

Sebastian Plankl

M.Sc. Mechanical Engineering, Regensbug University of Applied Sciences

During an engineering internship, Sebastian Plankl contributed to the development of the Maneuver Kinematics Simulator.

  Armando Rollins 

M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2017

Armando Rollins developed a Zero-Effort-Miss/Zero-Effort-Velocity path planner for the capture on non-cooperative, rotating space objects. Armando currently works for Embraer.

Adam Truszkowski 

B.Sc. and M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech

Adam Truszkowski supported the ORION lab as volunteer webmaster, until his graduation. Adam us currently working at Blue Origin as fluid systems design engineer.

Jerry Wang 

M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2018

Jerry Wang's M.S. thesis topic was the simulation of the flight dynamics of a spherical, omnidirectional flying vehicle, and the development of controllers for decoupled linear and rotational motion. Jerry currently works at NASA Kennedy Space Center.