Aerospace Control Systems

Spacecraft GNC Systems Engineering


About ACS


me_optDr. Mark E. Pittelkau is the founder and owner of Aerospace Control Systems LLC. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering at Tennessee Tech in 1981 and 1986 and his M.S. in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech in 1983, all concentrating in control systems. He was previously with the Applied Physics Laboratory, Orbital Sciences, CTA Space Systems (now Orbital), and Swales Aerospace. His early career at the Naval Surface Warfare Center and FMC Defense Systems involved target tracking, gun fire control, and gun system calibration. He has recently performed research in target track correlation and track fusion. Since 1990, Dr. Pittelkau has worked on several spacecraft attitude determination and control systems in all phases of design and operation, including software implementation and test. His theoretical knowledge and mathematical skills are balanced with more than 25 years of practical experience in engineering.

Dr. Pittelkau is a leading expert in the development of algorithms for calibration of attitude sensors, including Redundant IMUs (RIMU), which have more than three sense axes. He developed the RADICAL RIMU Attitude Determination/Calibration Filter software, which accurately estimates attitude and a full set of attitude sensor alignment and RIMU calibration parameters. RADICAL has successfully suppported the design and operation of several spacecraft. Dr. Pittelkau is also an expert in attitude determination system design, analysis, and hardware selection. He is intimately familiar with many types of star trackers, gyros, reaction wheels, and other attitude sensors and actuators.

Dr. Pittelkau led the development of the GOODS GPS-based orbit estimation software, which is a major improvement over the original GEODE software. GOODS is now a standard spacecraft software element at OSC and is operating on several spacecraft. He developed pointing stability and jitter metrics that are based directly on the point spread function, which is an important imaging performance metric, and he developed fast computational algorithms for evaluating the pointing error metrics. He has developed and implemented attitude command algorithms for Earth scanning and imaging, maneuvering, and tracking; attitude control laws; and simulation and flight algorithms. He has also performed detailed control-structure interaction and stability analyses for several spacecraft, including SORCE, OrbView-4, TIMED, MESSENGER, and STEREO. He has applied robust control theory to analyzing the stability of the Pegasus autopilot, and performed a classical stability analysis of a modified Standard missile autopilot. He also developed a boost-phase target tracking filter based on the rocket equation and hypothesis testing to detect stage separation.

Since 1999, he has been teaching one day of the 5-day course Space Systems Intermediate Design and a 3.5-day class on Attitude Determination and Control for the Applied Technology Institute (ATI). He also taught on-site courses for ATI at NASA and Boeing on classical and modern control theory with an introduction to basic concepts in robust control.

Dr. Pittelkau is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA and a Senior Member of the IEEE. He is a member of the AIAA Astrodynamics Technical Committee and a General Chair of the 2009 Space Flight Mechanics Conference. He is acting Treasurer for the IEEE National Capital Area Consultants Network (NCA-CN).

Look for Dr. Pittelkau on LinkedIn.