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Space Systems Design Laboratory

Space Systems Design Laboratory

Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering

Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0150
Phone: 404.894.7783
Fax: 404.894.2760

News & Events

A recent announcement by SpaceX heading to Mars in 2018 highlights work done by researchers in SSDL; The feasability of such a mission is critiqued in the following article, "Can SpaceX really land on Mars? Absolutely, says an engineer who would know."

Congratulations to SSDL graduate students Julian Brew, Nate Skolnick, and Michael Werner who were awarded NASA Space Technology Research Fellowships beginning in August 2016.

Congratulations to Jeremy Hill who completed and successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis entitled "Mechanical Property Determination for Flexible Material Systems," and graduated in May 2016.

Prime Destination: The International Student Experience - Lin Li and Ulises Núñez Garzón, two students from SSDL, were featured in a recent GT Alumni Magazine article highlighting the draw that Georgia Tech has on international students.

An AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets article co-authored by Professor Braun and Robert Manning of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was named as one of the four most-cited articles published by the journal between 2005 and 2010. Mars Exploration Entry, Descent and Landing Challenges documents previous Mars entry, descent, and landing systems and demonstrates the benefits of potential technologies in increasing landed performance for future robotic and human exploration missions. AIAA has made the top four articles from this timeframe available for free download at

On February 5, 2016 the Georgia Tech Prox-1 team successfully conducted their Pre-Integration Review with the AFOSR/AFRL University Nanosatellite Program. The review ensures that the spacecraft is fully functional at the system level, in a bench-top configuration. Now that the review is complete, final integration of the spacecraft components into the flight structure will begin. The next major milestone for Prox-1 is the Pre-Ship Review, scheduled for May 2016.

Congratulations to SSDL graduate students Casey Heidrich, Alexandra Long, and Peter Schulte on successfully passing their PhD qualifying exams in Spring 2016.

SSDL is pleased to welcome the following new graduate students into the lab for Spring 2016: Julian Brew, Tanish Himani, and Jian Li.

Ongoing work in SSDL was featured in Issue 3 of the 2015 Georgia Tech Research Horizons magazine article, The Future is Small.

Congratulations to Sean Chait, Andris Jaunzemis, Alexandra Long, Tim Murphy, Peter Schulte, Adam Snow, and Johnny Worthy who received M.S. degrees in the Fall 2015 commencement.

Congratulations to SSDL graduate students Grant Rossman, Keir Gonyea, and Johnny Worthy on their successful PhD Thesis proposals in Fall 2015.

Numerous SSDL faculty and alumni were part of a GT alumni magazine article on the next stage of space exploration.

Congratulations to SSDL graduate student Hisham Ali who was selected in September 2015 to receive an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation PhD Fellowship.

SSDL is pleased to welcome the following new graduate students into the lab this Fall: Lyndy Axon, Thomas Choi, Parker Francis, Fan Geng, Zach Levine, Daniel Marsillach, Evan Roelke, Terry Stevenson, Jason Swenson, Shez Virani and Michael Werner.

In August, SSDL alumnus Zach Putnam began his academic career at the University of Illinois. Zach earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Georgia Tech and was a member of SSDL from August 2005 through May 2006 and August 2010 through May 2015.

On July 28, 2015 Dr. Robert Braun testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space & Technology. He was one of five expert witnesses invited to address the topic, "Exploration of the Solar System: From Mercury to Pluto and Beyond". The purpose of this hearing was to review recent NASA achievements in exploring the solar system, including the exploration of Pluto and the asteroid Ceres, as well as assess the future of our nation's planetary exploration program.

Congratulations to SSDL professor, Dr. Dave Spencer, and the team of Georgia Tech students who supported operations of the Planetary Society's LightSail-A spacecraft. This mission marks the first time that Georgia Tech students have participated directly in the operation of a spaceflight project through the SSDL Mission Operations Center. Dr. Spencer served as the Mission Manager for the LightSail-A project and was responsible for the day-to-day operation of this spacecraft. LightSail-A was a solar sail deployment shakedown flight that paves the way for a full-fledged solar sailing demonstration in 2016. For this second mission, a nearly identical solar sail spacecraft (LightSail-B) will ride to orbit within the Georgia Tech Prox-1 microsatellite. Once on-orbit, Prox-1 will deploy LightSail-B and provide on-orbit inspection of the LightSail-B solar sail deployment event.

In May 2015, at the American Astronautical Society conference Astronauts and Robots: Partners in Space Science and Exploration in Pasadena CA, Professor Braun received the inaugural AAS Space Technology Award "for extraordinary contributions in technology to enable the landing of vehicles on other planets, and for creating NASA technology development programs designed to build our nation's future space capabilities and solve grand societal challenges on Earth."

Congratulations to SSDL alumnus Ian Clark who was inducted into the Georgia Tech College of Engineering Council of Outstanding Young Alumni in May 2015. Ian received this honor for his efforts at JPL as the principal investigator of NASA's Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project. Ian earned his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech's School of Aerospace Engineering in August 2009, performing this research in SSDL.

Congratulations to SSDL alumnus and Purdue University Professor Michael Grant who was recognized for excellence in teaching with the c2015 School of Aeronautics and Astronautics Elmer F. Bruhn Best Teacher Award as voted upon by the Purdue undergraduates. This is the second teaching award Mike has received since joining the Purdue faculty in 2012. He earned his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech's School of Aerospace Engineering in May 2012, performing this research in SSDL.

Congratulations to SSDL graduate student, Francesca Favaro, who was awarded the Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship for the second time in three years.

Congratulations to SSDL professor, Dr. Joseph H. Saleh, who was recognized by the Journal of Engineering Design for his 2009 article, "Flexibility:a Multi-disciplinary Literature Review and a Research Agenda for Designing Flexible Engineering Systems" as the fourth most read and cited paper in the journal's archives.

Congratulations to Zach Putnam and David Spencer who earned their Ph.D. degrees and to Hisham Ali, Mariusz Grøtte, Kip Hart, Casey Heidrich and Nicole Tyman who received M.S. degrees in the May 2015 commencement.

Congratulations to SSDL undergraduate research scholar, Shelby Bottoms, who received the 2015 Outstanding Undergraduate Award for the Southeast Region awarded by Sigma Gamma Tau. In the past decade, three of the five Georgia Tech students chosen for this presitigious award have been members of the Space Systems Design Lab. Established in 1953, Sigma Gamma Tau is the honor society for Aerospace Engineering. It seeks to identify and recognize achievement and excellence in the Aerospace field.

Congratulations to SSDL graduate student Casey Heidrich who was awarded a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship beginning in August 2015.