About the Spacecraft Robotics Lab12

The Spacecraft Robotics Laboratory is a research and graduate-teaching laboratory founded by Marcello Romano in 2004.

It is part of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering within the Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of the Naval Postgraduate School.


The research foci of the Spacecraft Robotics Laboratory are:

1) Dynamics, Guidance, Control and Navigation of Orbiting Robotic Spacecraft Systems

2) Space Systems Software and Hardware conceptualization and prototyping 

3) Utilization of custom state-of-the-art kino-dynamic Hardware-in-the-loop simulators for Space Systems GN&C testing in a lab environment.


Active research topics:

  1. High-fidelity modeling and analysis of Attitude and Orbital Proximity maneuvers (including exact solutions and geometric approaches)
  2. Optimal guidance and non-linear control for Spacecraft Attitude and Orbital Proximity maneuvering with emphasis on analytical and real-time executable methods (incliuding optimal control theoretical development, reachability analysis, utilization of evolutionary and AI algorithms)
  3. Autonomous GN&C of Spacecraft-Robotic-Arm systems for orbiting debris removal, spacecraft servicing, etc.
  4. In-orbit experimentation of Orbital Robotic GN&C. 

The research conducted at the Spacecraft Robotics Lab is problem oriented and aims at general scientific contributions, independently of the TRL level of the technology considered. 

The research approach is to use a combination of theoretical and analytical development, numerical simulations, and experimental testing

The teaching approach of the Spacecraft Robotics Laboratory is to bring research topics at the forefront of astronautical engineering and robotics to classroom and to provide students with hands-on educational experience on spacecraft-like systems (dynamic spacecraft simulators maneuvering in a laboratory environment) and to familiarize them with real-time GN&C software systems. 


The NASA Ames Astrobee Robotic Free-flyer on-board the International Space Station, wearing the NPS Spacecraft Robotics Lab `skin', during the first session of the ASTROBATICS experimental campaign in March 2021 (PI: Prof. Marcello Romano)



The kino-dynamics proximity orbital-maneuvering and robotic simulator at the Spacecraft Robotics Laboratory of the Naval Postgraduate School (Director: Prof. Marcello Romano) 

Floating Spacecraft Simulator