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  • Welcome to the Space Systems Design Laboratory (SSDL)

The Space Systems Design Lab (SSDL) at the Georgia Institute of Technology creates space technologies and advanced mission concepts that enable new missions and capabilities in robotic and human space exploration. Research focuses on space flight applications and projects. We use modern engineering tools including mission design methodologies, systems engineering, additive manufacturing, simulation, optimization, sensing, estimation and control to propose, participate in, and operate space flight missions that conduct space science and demonstrate new technologies.

The SSDL is a multi-faculty, interdisciplinary research lab located within the School of Aerospace Engineering. The SSDL is currently directed by Prof. E. Glenn Lightsey. Prior SSDL Directors include David A. Spencer (2010-2016), Robert D. Braun (2003-2016), and John R. Olds (1998-2005).

Focus Areas

Small Satellite Flight Projects

Full life cycle design from mission concept to operations

Space Technology Development

Technology maturation enabling new capabilities for spacecraft

Mission Campaign Optimization

Applying optimization theory to design sequential missions

Spacecraft Guidance, Navigation and Control

Creating new methods for spacecraft control

Featured Projects

Upcoming Events


SSDL Ph.D. student Logan Feld from Dr Koki Ho's group received the NSTGRO Fellowship.

His research will look into the impact of various control systems (thrusters, solar radiation pressure, multi-spacecraft) on overcoming gravitational and geometric uncertainties around small bodies such as asteroids and comets, with the goal of minimizing the amount of control necessary. The simulated spacecraft will be a mothership-daughtership configuration that will utilize as little control as possible to land the daughtership on the small body surface with varying amounts of uncertainty. 

In the early morning hours of December 11th, the Lunar Flashlight spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral. This 6U CubeSat will survey the lunar south pole for water ice. Lunar Flashlight was integrated and will now be operated by the SSDL! Additionally, the green monopropellant propulsion system used to inject the spacecraft into its lunar orbit was developed by members of the SSDL. Congratulations to all of those involved! 

The 3rd Space Imaging Workshop was held October 10-12, 2022 at Georgia Tech. Hosted by Dr. John Christian and the Space Exploration Analysis Laboratory, the workshop saw experts in imaging for astronomy, planetary science, optical navigation (OPNAV), and space domain awareness (SDA) gather in Atlanta. The workshop also welcomed keynote speakers Coralie Adam, Optical Navigation Lead at KinetX Aerospace, and Col. Marc A. Brock, Space Delta 2 Commander in the United States Space Force. 

Congratulations to the following SSDL students on graduating in Spring and Summer 2022- Thomas Claudet, Brandon Colón, Nathan Daniel, Luke DiStasio, Youssof Fassi, Kohei Kotani, Lacey Littleton, Jishnu Medisetti, Akshay Menon, Brian Murphy, Kian Shirazi, Celeste Smith, Ariel Tokarz, and Yana Charoenboonvivat!

Professor Christian was elected as a 2021 AAS fellow. The AAS is a premier professional organization in the aerospace community. This fellowship is very selective, and a great honor. Congratulations to Dr. Christian on this achievement!

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