Expertise: Systems Engineering

We build sophisticated instruments and deploy them in demanding environments. These devices integrate optical, mechanical, electronic, and software subsystems, and must function reliably in harsh terrestrial, airborne and spaceborne scenarios. Our systems engineering methodology involves all technical stakeholders. Starting with requirements and specifications analysis, we conduct design reviews in conjunction with risk assessments and the analysis and mitigation of failure modes. As a result of this process, we have consistently delivered sophisticated optical and opto-mechanical systems for demanding spaceborne, airborne, and terrestrial applications.

Optical Design, Assembly and Testing

Michigan Aerospace utilizes the latest tools available for optical and mechanical design and analysis.

These tools enable us to design and build optical instruments and systems that exhibit high levels of stability and performance in thermally and mechanically dynamic environments.

Our optical engineers are skilled in design and fabrication of lenses, imaging systems, telescopes, fiber optics, reflective optics, and interferometers.

We use the latest versions of Zemax, NASTRAN, Cosmos, and SolidWorks.

We have a class 10,000 clean room and portable clean-room facilities that allow us to fabricate and test our products in a contaminant-free environment.

In particular, our innovative techniques for nano-positioning and feedback control utilize piezoelectric and ferroelectric actuators to ensure the highest level of precision and accuracy in alignment and positioning stability and control.

Integration of these techniques into our tunable Fabry-Perot interferometers has produced previously unseen levels of stability and control. The strategic placement and inclusion of piezoelectric actuators enables the design and production of optical instruments and systems with the capacity for full remote alignment and operational control.

Mechanical Design, Assembly and Testing

We use cutting-edge technologies and methods in the design and fabrication of mechanical and opto-mechanical systems.

With a combination of analytical engineering practices, finite element analysis, and dynamic computer simulation, our engineers produce robust, efficient systems to meet a variety of design challenges.

Our staff has developed hardware to perform tasks ranging from ocular imaging, to nano-scale positioning actuators for interferometers, to compliant autonomous docking systems for spacecraft refueling and servicing.

We develop our mechanical systems using the latest version of SolidWorks, then evaluate every design with a rigorous testing program.

NASTRAN and COSMOS are used to perform finite element analyses for characterizing static structural behavior, vibration frequency response, and thermal effects of all systems designed.

MSC.ADAMS software is used to create dynamic computer models for virtual prototyping, virtual testing, dynamic simulation of environmental effects, and internal interaction of components.

Failure modes and effects analyses are used to perform risk mitigation and to produce leading-edge solutions that exceed customer expectations.

Electronic Design and Fabrication

We have developed electronic design and fabrication capabilities in response to the need for custom electronic solutions for spacecraft, aircraft, and ground-based instrumentation.

  • Microcontroller-based piezo controllers (for example, to adjust spacing and alignment of optical surfaces)
  • Robotic elements
  • Thermal control systems
  • Systems based on programmable logic controllers (PLCs), with built-in graphical user interfaces

We use tools such as Orcad Schematic capture, Ultiboard PCB layout, Electronics Workbench (a SPICE simulation tool) and Python, MATLAB, and IDL for system simulation.

We have designed and built electronics for a variety of applications, including harsh industrial, aircraft, and spaceborne environments.

We have delivered solutions using FPGAs and embedded systems, to entire building control systems designed for remote operation over the internet./p>

Our expertise is in producing efficient and rugged designs for operation in any environment, from the laboratory to satellites, the International Space Station, manned and unmanned aircraft, to mountaintops.

Thermal and Structual Analysis and Design

The staff of Michigan Aerospace Corporation has experience in thermal and structural analysis and design of a variety of systems intended for challenging environments.

We have designed complex thermal systems for laboratory, airborne, and spaceborne optical instruments. Applications involved cryogenic cooling of detector electronics for optical systems, heat removal from avionics on aircraft, efficiency improvement of cooling systems for displays, and design considerations for biomedical devices.

Capabilities include analytical, numerical, experimental and finite element expertise.

We use the latest versions of MSC NASTRAN and COSMOS to perform finite element analyses to characterize static structural behavior, vibration frequency response, and thermal effects of all of the systems we design.

We use MSC.ADAMS software to create dynamic computer models for virtual prototyping and testing as well as dynamic simulation of environmental effects and internal interactions of components.

Failure modes and effects analyses are used to perform risk mitigation and to produce leading-edge solutions that exceed customer expectations.

Software Application Development

We have extensive experience in design, development and implementation of software applications for use in real-time data acquisition/analysis, hardware control, embedded systems, simulation, off-line scientific analysis, and data exploitation.

Software control has been implemented for the following hardware:

  • CCD and EMCCD cameras
  • Custom piezoelectric and ferroelectric closed loop controllers
  • Motion controllers
  • Data acquisition cards
  • Multi-platform and remote interface development
  • Laser control, shutters, timing electronics and power meters
  • Temperature controllers
  • Photomultiplier tubes
  • Accelerometers/gyros
  • Autonomous/remote meteorological stations

Platforms: FPGA, embedded systems, Windows, 808x assembly, VRTX RTOS and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)

Languages: Visual C++, Visual Basic, MFC; Winsock TCP/IP, SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Interactive Data Language (IDL), Matlab, Spacecraft Command Language (SCL), Python, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, NodeJS


  • CCD cameras
  • Algorithm development for real-time and post-acquisition image analysis
  • Engineering management database solutions
  • Multi-threaded control systems and data management solutions
  • Multi-platform and remote interface development

Custom Fiber Optic Design and Fabrication

Due to the variety of profile geometries and sizes of our fiber optic needs, we have developed an extensive capability in custom fiber optic mount design to ensure seamless integration of fibers with our instruments.

Many of our products require unique fiber optic patterns to achieve performance goals. We work with fiber optics of many different diameters and numerical apertures, as well as with multi-mode and single mode fibers.

Using optical fibers, we have developed a patented technique, known as “light recycling”, to dramatically increase the efficiency of our interferometers and related optical systems.

All fabrication, polishing, and performance verification for our instruments’ unique fiber pattern designs and cabling needs are performed in-house by our qualified staff. Fiber optic arrays typically have positional tolerances on the order of 1-2% of the fiber diameter.

Our lab equipment includes an Ultrapol 1200-series polishing and lapping machine that is used to polish the ends of optical fibers to a surface quality of 0.05 microns. The fiber can be adjusted in position in steps as small as 0.01 mm. A Westover Scientific FV-080 Video fiber microscope or 300X microscope are typically used for inspection.