Orion Research Lab

Orion Research Lab



Dr. Markus Wilde

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. Tiauw Go

Tiauw Hiong Go received his S.M. (1904) and Sc.D. (1999) degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He stayed at MIT as a Postdoctoral Associate and later as a Research Engineer until 2005. In December 2005, Dr. Go joined Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore as an Assistant Professor. He has been instrumental in the development of flight simulation and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) laboratories in the university. Since January 2013, Dr. Go has been with Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) as an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His current research interest includes unconventional flight dynamics and control, UAV systems, and multiple flight coordination.

Dr. Brian Kaplinger


Brian Kaplinger received his Ph.D. (2013) from Iowa State University in Aerospace Engineering. He joined the Florida Institute of Technology in 2013. His research focus includes spacecraft proximity operations guidance and control, and attitude determination and control systems.


Dr. Hector Gutierrez  

Hector Gutierrez received the B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics from Universidad Cayetano Heredia, Lima, in 1989, and the B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru in 1991. He earned the M.Eng. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering in 1993, and the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1997. He joined the Florida Institute of Technology in 1999, where he is currently a Professor. His professional interests are in controls and mechatronics for aerospace systems, motion control, and flexible structures. He received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2001 and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 2003, both for his work in magnetic suspension systems. 

 Dr. Daniel Kirk  

Daniel Kirk received his M.S. (2001) and Ph.D. (2003) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is Professor of Aerospace Engineering and the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology. He is a Boeing Welliver Faculty Fellow and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His research interests focus on air-breathing and rocket propulsion, and he is a co-director of the Aerospace Systems And Propulsion (ASAP) Laboratory.


Doctoral Students

Stephen Kwok-Choon Stephen Kwok Choon received a B.S. (2010) and M.S. (2011) in Aerospace Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne. 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 until June 2014. In August 2014, he enrolled into the PhD Mechanical Engineering program at Florida Institute of Technology and is currently involved in research with a focus in robotics and controls.

Masters Students

Larrisa Balestrero Machado Larissa Balestrero Machado is developing an 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. 
  Branden Blackwell  Branden Blackwell is 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.


 Jordan Groezinger

Jordan Groezinger is completing the hardware of the DAWN 6 DOF motion dynamics simulator and developing the controller for the vertical counterbalancing system. A full 6 DOF dynamics simulation capability will enable the ORION lab to conduct high fidelity experimentation of docking/capture dynamics, testing of CubeSat attitude and orbit control systems, and validation of simulation models for the dynamics of spacecraft robotics systems.


Bhumika Patel   Bhumika Patel is conducting 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 settling of Mars.


Max Skuhersky  Max Skuhersky is conducting research in mission architecture design for Earth-Mars Cycler missions, studying the fluid mechanics and motion dynamics of orbital fuel depots, and developing a simulation model for the power requirements of Urban Aerial Mobility vehicles.

Current Visiting Scholars


Alexander Schmid Alexander Schmid is a visting scholar from TU Munich, Germany. He is 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.

Undergraduate Students


Jonathan Chase

Jonathan is developing software for the real-time compression and streaming of generic cameras in the ORION lab. He is also assisting with experimentation and data acquisition.


Zachary Davis

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


Wesley Howell

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


Brian Nyffenegger

Brian is currently an undergraduate work study, and is studying aeropace engineering. He is developing a laboratory prototype for a robotic boom for refueling upper stages in orbit.


Alumni - Graduated Students

  Christopher Brett

MSc Space Science and Technology, Luleå Tekniska Universitet

  Kendrick Buchala

M.S. 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.

May Chan

M.S. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech, 2018

For her M.S. thesis, May Chan developed and tested a predictive display for aircraft flight path and attitude to enable teleoperation of unmanned aerial vehicles with significant time delays

Maria Grulich

M.S. 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.S. 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 

M.S. 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.S. 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.S. 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.S. 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.S. 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.S. 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 

M.S. Aerospace Engineering, Florida Tech

Adam Truszkowski supported the ORION lab as volunteer webmaster, until his graduation. Adam currently works for Embraer.


Jerry Wang 

M.S. 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.