Document Type



Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Adviser

Hart, Terry J.


The space hopper simulator project drew its origin from a partnership with Penn State University to compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. Lehigh University is tasked with the exploring the guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) system of the hopper spacecraft. To simulate the dynamics and flight behavior of the concept, Earth-based multirotor flying platforms were developed with the end goal of executing the hopping maneuver.The overall project has been ongoing for more than 5 years and went through several major revisions to fix flaws discovered in the previous design. As older students graduate and new teams are form, knowledge and experience are lost in the process. Due to the time it take to relearn and redesign the simulators, the project progress only get as far as achieving radio controlled flight. The current and 3rd generation development team aims to change that by developing both the hardware and software using modular design.With modular design, the manufacturing, repair and modification process for the multirotor speed up significantly. The damaged component can be replaced with little effort. In addition to the hardware advantages, the software modules enable concurrent development of both a PID and a Fuzzy Logic based flight control system using similar avionics and software architecture. Since the flight operating system function by linking the various software modules, individual modules can easily be swapped to test different control laws, electronic devices, etc. The software modules are also capable of being reused in other applications, such as running the thrust test stand and logging data with the wireless ground station.In theory and simulation, the GN&C system is quite simple. The hopping guidance trajectory can be generated by a set of linear and trigonometric equations. The trajectory can be optimized by minimizing the total energy consumption at the end of the hopping maneuver. The navigational data can be collected from the GPS and localized for the cascade PID controllers to achieve the desired trajectory. In the ideal world, everything is simple and easy.In the real world, a range of problems arise during implementation. Factors such as time delay and noises significantly impact the performance of the control system, making stable aggressive tuning very difficult to achieve. In an attempt to improve the condition, a number of digital filters such as the moving average filter and the Kalman filter were explored. In addition, every sub-system was analyzed in depth to optimize for speed. This resulted in 3 major revisions in changing flight computer and programming languages.Even though the main topic of this research is the guidance, navigation and control system, the project quickly expanded into a systems engineering problem. Everything must work well together in order for the aircraft to achieve stable flight.