2004 Tycho Brahe Award

Presented to: Dr. E. Glenn Lightsey

Citation: For his pioneering work in the development, implementation, and testing of practical, low-cost GPS receivers for space applications.


Dr. E. Glenn Lightsey is an associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in the dynamics and control of spacecraft using avionics sensors such as GPS navigation and attitude determination. Prior to joining the University of Texas in 1999, Dr. Lightsey worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for eight years, where he designed control systems for several NASA spacecraft. At the University of Texas, Dr. Lightsey has developed, tested, and fl own space receivers that perform attitude determination and control as well as relative navigation and formation control.

Dr. Lightsey’s contributions to the field of space navigation include: the fi rst GPS carrier phase attitude determination on a spacecraft (RADCAL); the fi rst attitude control of a spacecraft using on-board GPS attitude sensing (REX-II); the design of a GPS attitude sensor for the International Space Station; a patent for GPS attitude determination, which is currently being commercialized by NASA; the first closed loop demonstration of spacecraft formation flying using GPS sensors; and more than 40 technical publications on the dynamics and control of spacecraft. Dr. Lightsey’s Ph.D. dissertation, “Development and Flight Demonstration of a GPS Receiver for Space,” was completed when only a few spacecraft used GPS receivers.

In the six years that he has been at the University of Texas, Dr. Lightsey has been awarded 18 externally funded research grants. Dr. Lightsey is the principal investigator of a university nanosatellite project known as FASTRAC (“Formation Autonomy Spacecraft with Thrust, Relnav, Attitude, and Crosslink”), to build and fly two satellites to demonstrate these technologies. He was recently awarded two grants to design algorithms for precision navigation at Mars.

Dr. Lightsey received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1997. He has served as space representative on the Institute of Navigation’s Council and is a member of the AIAA’s Technical Committee on Guidance, Navigation, and Control. He performs editorial services for several professional journals and trade periodicals.