CORDS Experts

Dr. William Ailor

Distinguished Engineer
Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies
The Aerospace Corporation 

Dr. William Ailor is the principal engineer for the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies (CORDS) at The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, Calif. Ailor has 15 years of experience conducting analyses on spacecraft reentry and reentry breakup. He was appointed director of Aerospace’s Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies when it was formed in June of 1997.

Ailor established and led the Space Hazards and Operations Support Directorate to prototype new capabilities for providing space situational awareness information (information on possible collisions with other objects and threatening space weather events) to satellite operators. He is leading the development of the Reentry Breakup Recorder, a small device that measures the forces affecting a spacecraft as it disintegrates while reentering the atmosphere. Ailor holds three patents.

Ailor has testified to Congress, provided expert opinion related to the reentry of the Russian Mir Space Station, and testified to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board on what might be learned from recovered debris.

Ailor holds a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Purdue University, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, both from North Carolina State University.


 

Ted Muelhaupt

Associate Principal Director
Systems Analysis and Simulation Subdivision
The Aerospace Corporation

Ted Muelhaupt is the associate principal director of the Systems Analysis and Simulation Subdivision (SASS) at The Aerospace Corporation. SASS is the primary Aerospace organization responsible for the analysis of the system-level performance expected from satellite systems. SASS develops models of systems, mathematical algorithms, and special-purpose software as necessary.  Muelhaupt has more than 30 years of experience in the analysis and operations of space systems.

Muelhaupt provides management sponsorship for space debris analysis for Aerospace, including CORDS. Aerospace has one of the largest concentrations of space debris and collision avoidance experts in the world.

Muelhaupt’s technical specialties include orbit analysis, modeling and simulation, performance analysis, and software development. He has been a leading proponent of system visualization techniques and a leader or sponsor of major software tool developments. Throughout his career, he has also been a corporate leader in information technology issues, especially as they are applied to users.

Muelhaupt joined The Aerospace Corporation in 1980. He is based out of Aerospace’s Chantilly, Va., office.

Muelhaupt obtained his M.S. in mechanics and a  B.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Minnesota. He is a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


 

Dr. Felix Hoots

Distinguished Engineer
Systems Analysis and Simulation Subdivision
The Aerospace Corporation

Felix Hoots is a distinguished engineer for the Systems Analysis and Simulation Subdivision (SASS) of Aerospace’s Systems Engineering Division.  Hoots supports a wide variety of space debris and space situational awareness (SSA)-related projects in the general field of space surveillance and astrodynamics.  He serves on numerous government and industry panels involved in collision avoidance, SSA, and space tracking issues.

Hoots is an expert in the analytical modeling of orbital motion, satellite relative motion, debris risk assessment, and prediction error uncertainty.  His expertise also extends to the space surveillance network and the satellite catalog maintenance process, including simulation and modeling of these systems.  Hoots has patents pending for debris risk visualization and launch collision avoidance algorithms.  Hoots created the initial concept for the Aerospace Debris Analysis Response Tool (DART), which provides operational support to the government to assess risk to operational spacecraft from a debris event in space (such as the collision of the Iridium and Cosmos satellites in 2009).  He manages the ongoing evolution and improvement of the DART with an objective of transition of the operational capability to the government.

Hoots joined The Aerospace Corporation in 2006, after a long and distinguished career in both government and industry.  He is highly published and is particularly well known as the author of the “Space Track 3” report, which documents a world-standard orbit propagation algorithm

Hoots obtained a Ph.D. in mathematics from Auburn University, as well as an M.S. in mathematics and a B.S. in physics from Tennessee Tech University.  He is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society (AAS) and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics (AIAA). He has had extensive professional activities in many capacities.  He is currently on the AAS Board of Trustees and serves on the AIAA Astrodynamics technical committee.  Dr. Hoots and several others received the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for International Scientific Cooperation in 2006.


 

Marlon Sorge

Senior Project Engineer
Space Innovation Directorate
The Aerospace Corporation

Marlon Sorge is a senior project engineer for the Space Innovation Directorate of The Aerospace Corporation in Albuquerque, NM. Sorge supports a wide variety of space debris and SSA-related projects as well as strategic planning, conceptual design, technology development programs, and astrodynamics analyses.

Sorge has conducted space debris research and analysis for more than 20 years in a broad range of fields including debris risk assessment, fragmentation analysis, operations support, debris mitigation technique implementation, debris event reconstruction, satellite design for debris survivability, orbital and suborbital range and space safety, ballistic debris management, debris environment projection, collision avoidance, orbital reentry prediction, and national and international mitigation guideline and standards development. He developed the Aerospace fragmentation model and conducted some of the first work in real-time fragmentation event risk assessment.

Sorge joined The Aerospace Corporation in 1989 in El Segundo, Calif.

Sorge holds a master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in physics, both from Purdue University.


 

Dr. Thomas Starchville

Director
Mission Analysis and Operations Department
The Aerospace Corporation 

Dr. Tom Starchville is the director of the Mission Analysis and Operations Department (MAOD) in the Systems Engineering Division (SED) at The Aerospace Corporation.  The department is focused on space situational awareness analysis and real-time operations support, including launch and on-orbit collision risk assessments, on-orbit breakup event analysis, orbit transfer and maneuver planning, and deorbit/reentry analysis.

Starchville’s technical specialties include orbit analysis, modeling and simulation, and performance analysis.  He is the corporate lead and senior analyst for all launch collision avoidance analysis support activities.  Starchville is also an experienced analyst for space debris investigations and risk assessments; and he assisted in the formation of the corporate space debris analysis capability (DART).

Starchville joined The Aerospace Corporation in Chantilly, Va., in 1997.

Starchville obtained a Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. in aerospace engineering from The Pennsylvania State University.  He is a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and member of the American Astronautical Society (AAS).  He is currently the chair of the AIAA Astrodynamics technical committee and also serves on the AAS Spaceflight Mechanics technical committee.


 

Dr. Roger Thompson

Senior Engineering Specialist
Mission Analysis and Operations Department
The Aerospace Corporation

Dr. Roger Thompson is a senior engineering specialist in the Mission Analysis and Operations Department at The Aerospace Corporation. During his 16 years at Aerospace, he has provided space situational awareness and collision avoidance analyses, and real-time operations support to a number of space missions. Thompson performs orbital and trajectory modeling, orbit determination, and formation flying and proximity operations as part of his job. He also supports real-time launch and on-orbit collision risk assessments, on-orbit breakup event analysis, orbit transfer and maneuver planning, and deorbit/reentry analysis.

He has experience in launch and orbital collision avoidance, uncertainty modeling, probability analysis, pointing and tracking systems, orbit and attitude dynamics, coverage analyses, optimal control systems, structural analysis and design, structural dynamics, and optimal controls. Thompson has provided collision risk analyses for actual or potential on-orbit collisions and developed software used to analyze those events. Thompson is based out of Aerospace’s Chantilly, Va., office.

Dr. Thompson holds a B.S. in engineering science and mechanics from North Carolina State University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering mechanics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University respectively.