2005 Tycho Brahe Award

Presented to: Dr. Daniel G. Kubitschek

Citation: For his work as the lead system engineer for the AutoNav system on the Deep Impact mission.


Dr. Daniel G. Kubitschek was the lead system engineer in charge of developing the autonomous navigation system for the Deep Impact mission. He led the development, testing, and operation of that system with tasks ranging from pulling together all the requirements, interfacing with the rest of the flight system, and overseeing all the testing and validation of the system to ensure that it met requirements. As part of his effort, he put together the image simulation environment that was used to test the system. Finally, he was the flight director for the impactor as it went into the unknown environment of the comet, an environment that caused attitude errors from dust impacts and could have caused fatal damage to the spacecraft.

Dr. Kubitschek was educated at the University of Colorado where he received a bachelor's in mechanical engineering and a master's and doctorate in aerospace engineering sciences. He also spent one-year at the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory where he worked on attitude determination for the MSX spacecraft.

During his graduate work at the University of Colorado, Dr. Kubitschek worked on a variety of spacecraft (Topex/Poseidon, Jason-1, ICDSat, and QuikSCAT). When he completed his Ph.D., he stayed on at the University of Colorado to carry out further work on the operations of TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason 1 and the development of the attitude and orbit determination systems for ICESat and QuikSCAT.

In 2000, he moved to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where, as a senior engineer, he carried out numerous projects for the Deep Impact mission, ranging from participating in the I&T program at Ball Aerospace to leading the development and testing of the AutoNav system, to being flight director for the impactor spacecraft.