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Robotic Docking with Tumbling Space Objects




16: Aeronautics and Astronautics

Faculty Supervisor:

Prof. Richard Linares

Faculty email:


Apply by:

February, 3rd, 2020



Project Description

The Space Systems Lab (SSL) is bringing its space robotics research to the next generation! The SSL’s SPHERES platform aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is getting a capable successor, Astrobee, a robotic free-flyer with a manipulator arm running the robotic operating system (ROS). Astrobee can see through multiple cameras and sensors, grapple payloads, interact with astronauts, and is reprogrammable for a wide range of space autonomy research. This project, one of the SSL’s first on Astrobee, aims to demonstrate planning, estimation, and control techniques needed to dock with and grapple tumbling objects. These techniques are essential in order to mitigate space debris, fix broken satellites, and assemble large space structures. UROP(s) will work with the Astrobee Gazebo simulator, learn about autonomy algorithms, and collaborate on code for ISS and ground testing. Write code to run in space, work with a modern space robotics platform, and engage in cutting-edge space autonomy research through this UROP.


We are looking for one to two motivated UROPs with a passion for space and robotics. Interested? Reach out to the contact below. Please include a resume and a few sentences about any prior coding, math, and space systems experience. Prior experience with Linux, ROS, C++, Python, and exposure to controls/estimation is highly desirable.