The Missouri S&T team spills their secrets on the best way to validate their small-sat algorithm

Have you ever come across a problem and thought, “Oh, that’s nothing, it’s just rocket science”. That’s what the team at Missouri University of Science & Technology figured when they started their study on Verification and Validation of Student-Designed Guidance, Navigation, and Control Algorithms.

Their exceptional work won them First Place in the EAP Grant Competition. Want to learn more about what they did? They will tell you all about it on March 23rd, in a special AGI Special Projects Webinar.

Listen in as Donna Jennings, Jill Davis, & Pavel Galchenko talk about how they used STK to replicate mission-like conditions, perform high-precision orbit propagation, and generate realistic sensor data to validate GNC algorithms on a pair of small-sats. Read their full project summary below and join us on March 23rd, at 11 AM EST, to learn more!

The Missouri S&T team developed a method of verification and validation of GNC algorithms created in MATLAB for a pair of small-sats using Analytical Graphics, Inc.’s System Tool Kit (STK). STK is used to replicate mission-like conditions, perform high-precision orbit propagation, and generate realistic sensor data. Physical renditions of the satellites are imported into STK in order to accurately model coordinate frames, sensor restrictions, and data generation. MexConnect is then used to connect the STK scenario with MATLAB. The sensor data are collected and processed by the GNC algorithms. The commanded control is then implemented using STK Astrogator. Upon completion of the simulation, the GNC algorithms are validated by a visual inspection of the relative trajectory. To verify the algorithms, both acceptance testing and requirement evaluation are used to confirm all mission objectives are achieved. During the development process, the Missouri S&T team overcame technical challenges such inconsistencies in the algorithms and optimizing the simulation run time. The V&V process did reveal a number of anomalies that were resolved in the GNC algorithms, improving the chances for mission success.

Do you have an interesting project you’d like to talk about? Then let us know by emailing!  AGI is always looking for exciting projects for future showcases.


Design high-fidelity spacecraft trajectories for mission planning and operations.


Automate Systems Tool Kit (STK) and integrate it with other applications to extend its capabilities.