Orion Research Lab

Orion Research Lab


Characterization and Capture of Orbital Objects with Contact Dynamics Prediction

Stephen Kwok Choon

Research based on the design and implementation of a vehicle to study planar rendezvous and capture of a target with a chaser satellite. The current modular design allows for customization and ease of access to accomodate for a variety of different types of experiments. The Chaser air bearing vehicle is equipped with a three-fingered gripper, reaction wheel, and solenoid propulsion system.

Vehicle to perform capture and docking maneuvers on flat floor.


Diverse Air-bearing Weightless eNvironment (DAWN)

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. An FIT senior capstone design team and a follow-up undergraduate student team adapted this architecture to the needs of the ORION lab. 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.

CAD model of the Cerberus prototype

The Cerberus team and the prototype after winning the Best Aerospace Project award at the 2017 Northrop-Grumman Senior Design Showcase