research engineer on Stabilisation of optical payloads in small spacecraft
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.
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.
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.
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-
Ample occasions to develop yourself in a scientific and/or an industrial
For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Dirk Vandepitte, tel.: +32
16 32 86 05, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Mr. Wim De Munter, tel.: +32
16 19 45 00, mail: email@example.com.
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
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