The WMU Space Flight Dynamics and Control Laboratory specializes in theoretical and computational modeling and analysis of space systems. Our research has applications to mission design, trajectory optimization, spacecraft control, and small satellite design. We are also interested in optimal control of other complex dynamic systems, including automotive powertrain systems and autonomous vehicles.

Research Areas

On-Orbit Servicing Mission Design and Trajectory Optimization

Robotic servicing of satellites could soon enable many new capabilities in space. Robotic servicing vehicles (RSVs) would have the ability to visit multiple clients and perform a variety of functions, including on-orbit inspection, repositioning, end-of-life transport to disposal orbit, and robotic repair. Efficient propulsion systems and versatile robotic components would allow a single RSV to perform several servicing operations in one mission. We are investigating the problem of how to design multi-client RSV missions, including trajectory optimization and operational sequencing in a dynamic client environment.


  1. J. Hudson and D. Kolosa, "On-Orbit Servicing Mission Design in a Dynamic Client Environment," AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, Maui, HI, January 13-17, 2019, AAS 19-451.
  2. A. W. Verstraete, D. Anderson, N. M. St. Louis, and J. Hudson, "Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Robotic Servicer Mission Design," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, DOI: 10.2514/1.A33945.

On-Orbit Propulsion Diagnostics: OPS Cube

The WMU Optical Plasma Spectroscopy CubeSat (OPS Cube) mission will demonstrate space-based characterization of an electric propulsion (EP) system using optical emission spectroscopy (OES). Through the AFRL University Nanosatellite Program and in collaboration with the WMU Aerospace Laboratory for Plasma Experiments, we are developing a 6U CubeSat that will house a small EP device (a xenon hollow cathode or a pulsed plasma thruster) and an OES system, which will measure light emissions from the EP system.


  1. J. Hudson and K. Lemmer, "Plasma Spectroscopy CubeSat: A Demonstration of On-Orbit Electric Propulsion System Diagnostics," Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference, Wailea, HI, September 2017.

Propulsion System and Orbit Maneuver Integration in CubeSats

This research focuses on development of attitude and trajectory control strategies for nanosatellites equipped with micro-electric propulsion systems. Small satellites operate under strict mass, volume, power, and thermal constraints. We are investigating control strategies and hardware configurations to enable nanosatellites to perform orbital maneuvers within these constraints.


  1. J. Hudson, S. Spangelo, A. Hine, D. Kolosa, and K. Lemmer, "Mission Analysis for CubeSats with Micro Propulsion," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 53, No. 5, pp. 836-846, 2016.

Shift and Lock-Up Schedule Optimization for GTDI Engines

This research aims to improve vehicle fuel economy within drivability and performance constraints through real-time, robust, optimal shift scheduling and lock-up scheduling. We are developing optimal control algorithms for advanced automatic transmissions coupled with downsized gasoline turbocharged direct injection (GTDI) engines.