Dr. Christopher “Chrispy” Petersen

Assistant Professor
Address Office NEB 453 Phone: (352) 273-2004


Dr. Christopher “Chrispy” Petersen is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) Department at the University of Florida. His research interests lie in anything related to space guidance, navigation, control, and autonomy, with particular focus of making techniques real-time implementable and usable for operators. While all of space interests him, his research mostly is concerned with Rendezvous, Proximity Operations, and Docking (RPOD) and any satellite in the eXtra Geostationary (XGEO) regime (above geostationary orbit, to the Moon, and beyond).

Dr. Chrispy Petersen joined the Department in 2022. Before that, he was a Research Aerospace Engineer and a Deputy Program Manager at the Space Vehicles Directorate of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/RV) located at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. While at AFRL he worked on 10+ satellite experiments, developing, deploying, and executing guidance, navigation, control, and autonomy (GNCA) algorithms for ground and on-orbit use. As a highlight, Dr. Chrispy Petersen was the PI for advanced autonomous guidance algorithms used by the Mycroft flight experiment which has been recognized as “…the AF’s biggest game changer” for space warfighters. Before he left, he served as the Deputy Program Manager of the Autonomous Demonstrations and Orbital eXperiments (ADOX) Portfolio, which is a series of satellite demonstrations focused on autonomy technologies to enable satellite inspection, XGEO space domain awareness and logistics in GEO including advanced propulsion and refueling. For his accomplishments, in 2021 he was awarded the AFRL Early Career Award. In addition to his duties at AFRL, he was a Research Professor at the University of New Mexico in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, teaching classes on nonlinear control and spacecraft dynamics, estimation, and control.


Dr. Chrispy Petersen looks at four research pillars that cross theory and application

  1. Exploring and exploiting spacecraft dynamics
  2. Advanced guidance, navigation, control and autonomy (GNCA)
  3. Real-time computationally aware optimization for spacecraft
  4. Immersive human-satellite interfaces

He is interested in all four pillars for space applications, but primarily focuses on two domains: i) Rendezvous, Proximity Operations, and Docking (RPO), where two or more satellites fly within 500 km of one another, and ii.) eXtra Geostationary Orbit (XGEO) operations, where satellites fly past the Earth, the Moon, and beyond.  He enjoys a healthy balance between theory and application in order to improve state-of-the-art space technology.  At UF Dr. Petersen’s lab, the Spacecraft Technology And Research (STAR) Lab, is developing, designing, and deploying methods for satellites.


Dr. Chrispy Petersen earned his PhD (2016) & MS (2014) in Spacecraft Dynamics & Control in the Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Michigan.  Before that he earned his BS summa cum laude in Aerospace Engineering from Syracuse University (2012), with minors in Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Music Performance.

Professional Memberships and Fellowships

American Astronautical Society, Member
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Member
Institute of Electrics and Electronics Engineers, Member

Teaching Interests

Dynamics; Nonlinear Control; Spacecraft Guidance, Navigation, and Control; Optimization. Optimal Control; Linear Systems


  • 2021 AFRL Early Career Award
  • 2021 AFRL Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engineering Achievement Award
  • 2020 AFRL/RV Rotary National Aware for Space Achievement (RNASA) Team Award (EAGLE/Mycroft)
  • 2020 AFRL STEM Exploratory Or Advanced Tech Development Team Award (EAGLE/Mycroft)
  • 2019 AFRL Annual Award Commander’s Cup Team Award (EAGLE/Mycroft)
  • 2018 AFRL Nominee for Theodore Von Karman Team Award (EAGLE/Mycroft)