research engineer on Stabilisation of optical payloads in small spacecraft

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


October 22, 2022


research engineer on Stabilisation of optical payloads in small spacecraft

(ref. BAP-2022-641)

Last modification : Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The research is hosted by the Mecha(tro)nic System Dynamics section (LMSD), which currently counts >100 researchers and which is part of the department of Mechanical Engineering of KU Leuven. The research group has a long track record of combining high-standard fundamental academic research with industrially relevant applications, leading to dissemination in both highly ranked academic journals as well as at industrial fora. The research group is involved with a number of R&D projects on the development of stable imaging systems for optical instruments which are installed on small spacecraft. The general objective is to acquire high-quality images with low- cost space platforms. CubeSats and SmallSats are more sensitive to external and internal vibration disturbances than large spacecraft. The Attitude & Orbital Control System of small spacecraft has insufficient performance to keep the optical platform within mission requirements. Projects include both Earth Observation missions and astronomy missions.

Website unit

  • The objective of the research project is the development of a stable platform for image acquisition at low cost. The task of the researcher is to develop an integrated system.

  • The payload requires a two-stage stabilisation platform with the spacecraft AOCS compensating for the large amplitude disturbances of the complete spacecraft and a fine pointing platform for the optical payload. The entire control system consists of a set of sensors and mechanical components for the spacecraft, including star trackers and reaction wheels, complemented with piezo-actuators for the instrument, all of which are controlled in a dual control loop.

  • As a researcher you will develop a complete control system. This work covers the complete cycle including the design phase of mechanical components and control strategies, numerical simulations for virtual testing, realisation of a breadboard, execution of a test and modification of the entire system to meet the mission requirements.
  • Profile
  • I have a Master's degree in engineering and I performed above average in comparison to my peers, or I already have a PhD with relevant expertise for the project.
  • I am proficient in written and spoken English.
  • During my courses or prior professional activities, I have acquired relevant expertise in structural analysis and control, preferably with application in space missions. Furthermore I have acquired relevant experience in a lab environment, working with mecha(tro)nic hardware components, preferably with image sensors and/or piezo-actuators.
  • As a researcher of the KU Leuven LMSD Division I perform research in a structured and scientifically sound manner. I read technical papers, understand the nuances between different theories and implement and improve methodologies myself.
  • Based on interactions and discussions with my supervisors and the colleagues in my team, I set up and update a plan of approach for the upcoming 1 to 3 months to work towards my research goals. I work with a sufficient degree of independence to follow my plan and achieve the goals. I indicate timely when deviations of the plan are required, if goals cannot be met or if I want to discuss intermediate results or issues.
  • Within the larger context of the LMSD section I work in close co-operation with fellow researchers on small spacecraft dynamics.
  • I feel comfortable to work as a team member and I am eager to share my results to inspire and being inspired by my colleagues.
  • I value being part of a research group which is well connected to the space sector and I am eager to learn how academic research can be linked to industrial innovation roadmaps.
  • I am open for co-operation with local industry on spacecraft AOCS.
  • I want to grow towards following up the project that I am involved in and representing the research group in project meetings or at conferences. I see these events as an occasion to disseminate my work to an audience of international experts and research colleagues, and to learn about the larger context of my research and the research project.
  • Offer
  • A remuneration package competitive with industry standards in Belgium, a country with a high quality of life and excellent health care system.
  • Either an opportunity to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, typically a four year trajectory, or a research stay of at least one year as a post- doctoral researcher.
  • Ample occasions to develop yourself in a scientific and/or an industrial direction.
  • Interested?

    For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Dirk Vandepitte, tel.: +32 16 32 86 05, mail: or Mr. Wim De Munter, tel.: +32 16 19 45 00, mail:

    KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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