Research Engineer / Fellow, Autonomous Spacecraft Formation Flying

03 Jan 2023
End of advertisement period
30 Jun 2023
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

As a University of Applied Learning, SIT works closely with industry in our research pursuits. Our research staff will have the opportunity to be equipped with applied research skill sets that are relevant to industry demands while working on research projects in SIT.

The primary responsibility of this role is to deliver on an industry innovation research project where you will be part of the research team to develop integrated control algorithms for autonomous cubesatellite formation flying. The controllers that will be developed during this project will differ from previous work on this topic by merging guidance laws never applied before to spacecraft formation flying while embedding collision avoidance capacities into a single control strategy. In general terms, the proposed control approaches will force the dynamical performance of one or several followers, with respect to a leader, to asymptotically track a time-varying nominal trajectory, while the threat of collisions between formation members is eliminated by means of repelling accelerations generated by a collision avoidance scheme.

The controllers will also be designed to account for and mitigate the orbital perturbation effects due to J2 and atmospheric drag. To critically evaluate and validate the design of the controllers, test cases based on the physical and orbital features of existing or planned cubesatellite formation flying missions will be implemented, while also increasing the number of elements in the formation when considering scenarios such as reconfigurations and position switching in low-Earth elliptical reference orbits. The final stage of this project will further validate the work done by embedding the control algorithms into an orbital control system which is integrated with a cubesat propulsion system. Currently there are no OCS integrated with a propulsion system that can natively perform autonomous orbital operations.

Key Responsibilities

  • Participate in and manage the research project with Principal Investigator (PI), Co-PI and the research team members to ensure all project deliverables are met.
  • Undertake these responsibilities in the project:
    1. Develop, test, and deploy spacecraft simulations and practical solutions to meet the project’s technical objectives
    2. Write up research findings for publication in leading discipline specific journals
    3. Use creativity to analyse and interpret research data and draw conclusions on the outcomes.
    4. Continually update knowledge and understanding in field of specialism.
    5. Attend and contribute to relevant project meetings.
    6. Contribute to collaborative decision making with colleagues in areas of research.
    7. Plan and manage own research activity in collaboration with others.
    8. Communicate material of both a non-technical and specialist nature to a broad audience using a range of media.
  • Carry out Risk Assessment, and ensure compliance with Work, Safety and Health Regulations.
  • Coordinate procurement and liaison with vendors/suppliers.
  • Work independently, as well as within a team, to ensure proper operation and maintenance of equipment.

Job Requirements

  • Have relevant competence in the areas of science and engineering
  • Have a degree in STEM discipline. Possessing a Master’s or Ph.D. degree will be advantageous.
  • Knowledge of control engineering, autonomous systems, orbital mechanics, programming, spacecraft engineering, and specialist software tools will be advantageous.
  • Experience in system integration and hardware in the loop simulation is desirable

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