Orion Research Lab

Orion Research Lab


Characterization and Capture of Orbital Objects with Contact Dynamics Prediction

Stephen Kwok Choon

Design and use of air-bearing vehicles to simulate capture of a non-cooperative, rotating target object. The chaser spacecraft is equipped with a three-fingered gripper designed to grasp the segment of a launcher adapter ring on the target object. The goal is to develop a control system to minimize the contact forces during capture.



Diverse Air-bearing Weightless eNvironment (DAWN)

Jordan Groezinger

Project DAWN aims to develop a six degrees-of-freedom air-bearing maneuver simulation platform. Its overall architecture was inspired by the ADAMUS vehicle developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Florida. DAWN will serve as simulation and test platform for small satellite guidance, navigation, and control systems for formation flight and precision pointing.


CAD model of the DAWN six degrees-of-freedom air-bearing vehicle



Project AirBall aims to develop a flying vehicle capable of decoupled motion in six degrees-of-freedom. The unique set of requirements led to a system propelled by six propellers with variable tilt. The original system prototype was designed and built by a senior capstone design team. The prototype is now being used in graduate research project aimed at developing closed-loop controllers for this overactuated and highly nonlinear system.

The AirBall prototype

AirBall dynamics simulation model as implemented in Simulink




Project Cerberus develops a laboratory prototype for a small inspection and on-orbit servicing vehicle. Cerberus is equipped with two five degrees-of-freedom robotic manipulators designed for capture and manipulation tasks. The vehicle is controlled by a thrust-vectoring cold-gas propulsion system. Cerberus will serve as a baseline for further development of control laws. The prototype was designed and built by a senior capstone design team.