The Space Rendezvous Laboratory (SLAB) is a research and development laboratory of the department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University founded and led by Professor Simone D’Amico. SLAB performs fundamental and applied research at the intersection of Astrodynamics and Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) to enable future Distributed Space Systems (DSS). These include but are not limited to spacecraft formation-flying, rendezvous and docking, swarms, and fractionated space architectures. The vision of SLAB is that DSS will help humanity addressing fundamental questions of space science, technology, and exploration. In order to respond to the ever increasing demands posed by these missions, SLAB’s objective is to develop, validate, and embed the necessary cutting-edge technologies into formations and swarms of micro- and nano-satellites to be launched in space. To this end, new multi-satellite mission concepts, new GN&C algorithms, and high-fidelity hardware-in-the-loop testbeds are under development. The research at SLAB is based on more than 18 years of experience in the design, implementation and flight operations of GN&C subsystems for formation-flying and on-orbit servicing missions. Past successfully flown DSS with Prof. D'Amico's contributions include GRACE (2003), TanDEM-X (2010), PRISMA (2010), and BIROS (2016). Current DSS under development include STARLING (2022), SWARM-EX (2024), and VISORS (2024). Ultimately partnerships at national and international level are paving the way for breakthrough demonstrations of new technology and science.
3D Printed Model of the miniaturized Distributed Occulter/Telescope (mDOT) Mission conceived at SLAB. Credits: Matthew Willis, Simone D'Amico