Guidance, Navigation, and Control enabling Retrograde Landing of a First Stage Rocket


  • Christian Canham
  • Meaghan Podlaski
  • Luigi Vanfretti



Rocket, Flight controller, GN&C, Retrograde Landing, Reaction Control Systems


A Modelica model of a of a rocket's first stage is developed, designed to be representative of the launch vehicles in use in the United States in the late 2010s. The model uses initial conditions similar to those observed immediately after a second stage separation at 166km altitude. A control system is developed enabling the rocket first stage to land back on Earth's surface at a predetermined landing pad in a controlled manner. The control system is evaluated based on its ability to compensate for altered initial conditions, as well as its ability to minimize acceleration forces and fuel consumption. The flight path of the simulated first stage rocket is compared to real-life telemetry data from a first stage rocket landing showing a similar trajectory.