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Colonel Luke Sauter

Department Head of Astronautics

Department of Astronautics

Official Photo of Luke Sauter
Contact Information

(719) 333-8580

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Bio

Colonel Luke Sauter is the Permanent Professor and Head of the Department of Astronautics, United States Air Force Academy. In this position he has final responsibility for curriculum, personnel, research, budget, long-range planning, faculty development, and cadet instruction. He supervises 30 Air Force officers, NCOs, civilians and support contractors offering 19 college-level courses annually to educate over 1,300 cadets in Astronautics and Space Operations. He also manages a dynamic $77M+ research program funded by Air Force Space Command, AFRL, and other DoD organizations.

Colonel Sauter graduated with distinction from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Astronautical Engineering in June of 2002. Colonel Sauter was selected as an instructor in the Department of Astronautics at the U.S. Air Force Academy. During this time he was the Executive officer and directed the capstone sounding rocket program which flew to a collegiate record of 106 km altitude. Col Sauter has held various technical leadership positions in the U.S. Air Force, to working at the National Reconnaissance Office, in the Imagery Intelligence directorate and as a Legislative Liaison prior to his current assignment at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Education

Doctor of Philosophy degree in Electrical Engineering, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK (2012)

Air Command and Staff College, Residence & Correspondence (2012)

Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, AL – Distinguished Graduate (2007)

Master of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2004)

Bachelor of Science degree in Astronautical Engineering, United States Air Force Academy – Distinguished Graduate (2002)

Professional Experience

Jul 2018 – Present, Permanent Professor and Head, Department of Astronautics, Headquarters United States Air Force Academy, CO

Jun 2017 – Jul 2018, Assistant Professor of Astronautics, Department of Astronautics, Headquarters United States Air Force Academy, CO

Sep 2012 – Jun 2017, Advance Payloads Branch Chief & Legislative Liaison, Imagery Intelligence Directorate, National Reconnaissance Office, Chantilly, VA

Sep 2009 – Sep 2012, PhD Student, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

Jun 2007 – Sep 2009, Assistant Professor of Astronautics, Department of Astronautics, Headquarters United States Air Force Academy, CO

Jun 2004 – Jun 2007, Space Superiority Office Program Manager, Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland AFB, NM

Jul 2002 – Jun 2004, Graduate Student, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Honors & Awards
Decorations

Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
Joint Meritorious Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Air Force Longevity Service Award, Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Training Ribbon

Awards

National Reconnaissance Office Medal of Superior Performance, Silver Medal, 2017
FGO Instructor of the Quarter, Department of Astronautics, USAFA, 2017
Intelligence Community Major System Acquisition Team Award, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2016
Nominated by the Air Force twice to compete for an astronaut position with NASA, 2016 and 2008
Selected Below-the-Zone for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, and Schools select, 2015
Team of the Year 2015, National Reconnaissance Office
Team of the Quarter 2014 and 2015, National Reconnaissance Office
Team of the Year directorate winner for 2013, National Reconnaissance Office
Selected as a Schools Select with promotion to Major, 2011
Dean of Faculty Team of the Quarter, FalconLAUNCH, 2009
John P. Wittry Award for Top Instructor of Engineering Design 2009
Arthur S. Flemming Award 2008, Air Force Winner and National Finalist, Engineering Excellence in Applied Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Roger R. Bate Award for the Outstanding First Year Instructor of Astronautics 2008
Top Instructor, Department of Astronautics, USAFA, 3x, 2007-09
Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Fellowship at MIT – 2002 to 2004

Research and Scholarly Interests

Astrodynamics

Rendezvous and Proximity Operations

Modern Control and Optimization

Rocket Propulsion

Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics and Control

Small Spacecraft systems. 

Publications

Book Contributions
  • Contributing author of, “Small Satellites: Past, Present, and Future,” Chapter 7: The United States Air Force Academy FalconSAT Small Satellite Program, AIAA, Jan 2009
Referred Journal Contributions
  • Primary author of “Analytic Model Predictive Controller for Collision-Free Relative Motion Reconfiguration,” AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, July-August 2012
  • Primary author of ” Onboard Semianalytic Approach to Collision-Free Formation Reconfiguration,” IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electrical Systems, July 2012
  • Primary author of “Path Planning for Fuel-Optimal planning and Collision-Free Formation Flying Trajectories,” Microelectronics Reliability, 2011
  • Contributing author of “Formation Deployment and Separation Simulation of Multisatellite Scenarios using SatLauncher,” Microelectronics Reliability, 2011
  • Primary author of “An Improved Kalman Filter for Satellite Orbit Predictions,” Journal of Astronautical Sciences, July-Sep 2005
  • Contributing author of “Simulating and evaluating regolith propagation effects during drilling in low gravity environments” Advances in Computational Design, and International Journal, Volume 4 number 2, April 2019
Conference Contributions
  • Contributing author of “Reaction Wheel Energy Storage in a Small Satellite,” Accepted for poster presentation at AAS Guidance Navigation and Control Conference, Breckenridge, CO  2018
  • Primary author of “Path Planning for Fuel-Optimal Collision-Free Formation Flying Trajectories,” IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, 2011
  • Primary author of “Finite Element Approach with Analytic Enhancement for Onboard Fuel-Optimal Collision-Free Formation Reconfiguration,” 8th International ESA Conference on Guidance, Navigation, and Control Systems, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, June 2011
  • Contributing author of, Aeroelastic Analysis and Optimization of FalconLAUNCH Sounding Rocket Fins,” 47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 2009
  • Presented classified paper at the AMOS Conference, Maui, HI, 2006
  • Presented classified paper at the MIT/LL Space Control Conference, 2005
  • Primary author of AAS 04-295, “Constellation Design for Mid-Course Ballistic Missile Intercept,” AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Conference February, Maui, HI, 2004
  • Primary author of student paper, “Improving on the Extended Kalman Filter”; Presented at the Space Grant Conference, Boulder, CO, April 2002
  • Primary author of AIAA-2001-4776, “Mars Surface Direct Communications”; Research completed at JPL; Presented at the AIAA Space Conference and Exposition, Albuquerque, NM, 2001
  • Primary author of AIAA-2001-4774, “Learning Space by Doing Space—The USAF Academy's FalconSAT Program”; Presented at the AIAA Space Conference and Exposition, Albuquerque, NM, 2001
  • Primary author of IEEE-510, “Bounding the Problem: Microsatellite Design Using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf Architecture”; Presented at the IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, March 2001
Other Contributions
  • Primary author of “Collision-free Optimal Reconfiguration of Small Satellites in Relative Motion,” University of Surrey, PhD Dissertation, August 2012.
  • Primary author of “Optimal Satellite Constellation Design for Mid-Course Ballistic Missile Intercept,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Master’s Thesis, June 2004.