Defense and Space

Mission Statement

To educate the future industry and government leaders of the defense and space community while improving the design and operation of defense and space systems through the use of innovative methods and techniques.


The Defense and Space Division (D&S) has particular expertise in the application of advanced design methods to military strategic planning, design and operational challenges. Project areas include military modeling and simulation, system of systems, military operations analysis, C4ISR, manned and unmmaned aerial vehicles, naval systems, missile systems, ballistic missile defense, access-to-space vehicles, in-space transportation, space logistics, entry descent and landing, and hypersonics . Currently we have four full-time researchers and over 40 graduate researchers supporting the division while working closely with other divisions of ASDL.


Alicia Sudol Division Chief
Bradford Robertson Chief Engineer
Michael Steffens
Henry Schwartz

Defense and Space Focus Areas

Defense Modeling and Simulation/Operations Analysis

Modeling and simulation is a key enabler to understanding how systems will interact and perform in scenarios of interest. Agent-based simulation (ABS), Discrete-Event simulation (DES), and System Dynamics (SD) have all become core capabilities in understanding how to design, deploy, and sustain systems in defense applications. Additionally, we consider operational effects from maintenance cycles and logistics chains to deployment schedules and surge capacity. These capabilities can be leveraged to deliver in-depth perspectives on design, acquisition, operation, and sustainment for defense applications. Our team also has experience generating, analyzing and visualizing relevant data to support key stakeholders and decision-makers as they seek to understand the problem of interest.

High Speed Atmospheric Vehicles

ASDL has a rich history of research in high speed systems. As we aspire to explore beyond our planet along with the desire to maintain a military advantage throughout the world, the need for research in the area of high speed systems is increasing. This includes, but is not limited to research in the area of entry descent and landing (EDL), launch vehicles, missiles, hypersonic vehicles, rocket propulsion, and air breathing propulsion. A large portion of this research is made possible by our hypersonic vehicle sizing and synthesis environment developed by ASDL research staff and students. The environment continues to evolve as new Ph.D. students continue to conduct research within the defense and space branch.

Space Systems

The space systems group applies ASDL’s advanced methodologies to the design and analysis of space vehicles, missions, and architectures. Our goal is to provide the space community with the cutting-edge capabilities that enable systems analysis, multi-disciplinary optimization, and quantitative technology assessment. ASDL researchers and students have developed new methods for space vehicle sizing and synthesis, space architecture analysis, in-space trajectory optimization, space logistics, and in-space assembly.

Naval Systems

ASDL has a long and proud history of conducting research for naval entities. We have an in-house capability to conduct naval engineering analysis, further the development of naval research efforts, and transition methods and techniques from other engineering disciplines to the naval domain. Past work has included naval architecture and marine engineering, naval logistics/sea basing, autonomous naval systems, electric ship systems, and ship signatures.


Our sponsors include:


Selected Publications and Reports

  • Robertson, B.; Crowley, D.; Garmendia, D.; Douglas, R.; Mavris, D. N.; and B. Hellman, “A Modeling Methodology and Environment for Integrated Trim Analysis for a Reusable Booster System”, AIAA-2011-1009, 49th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting including the New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition, Orlando, Florida, Jan. 4-7, 2011.
  • Edwards, S.; Mavris, D.N.; and B. Hellman, “Rocketback Trajectory Figures of Merit for a Reusable Booster Technology Flight Demonstrator”, AIAA-2010-8667, AIAA SPACE 2010 Conference and Exposition, Anaheim, California, Aug. 30-2, 2010.
  • Balestrini-Robinson, S. and D. M. Mavris, “How to Distribute Modeling Effort for Complex Systems,” In Proceedings of the 2010 Summer Simulation Multiconference (Ottawa, Canada, July 11-15), 2010.
  • Mavris, D.N., and R. Douglas, (U) QUANTITATIVE TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT (QTA) PROGRAM, Task Order 0001: Next Generation Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Cooperative Engagement Capability Study for a Mothership and Deployable UAVs, s.l. : AFRL-RB-WP-TR-2010-3087 AFRL-RB-WP, Jul 2010.
  • Balestrini Robinson, S., “A modeling process to understand complex system architectures”; Georgia Institute of Technology, 2009., Publication Number: AAI3376248, ISBN: 9781109417814, Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 70-10, Section: B, page: 6369., 347 p.
  • Griendling, K.; Balestrini-Robinson, S. and D. Mavris, “DoDAF-based System Architecture Selection using a Comprehensive Modeling Process and Multi-Criteria Decision Making,” In Proceedings of the 12th AIAA/ISSMO Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization Conference (Victoria, Canada, September 10-12), 2008.
  • Balestrini Robinson, S.; Li, Y.; Nixon, J. N.; and D. M. Mavris, “Model Development of Large-Scale DoD System-of-Systems,” In Proceedings of the 2008 International Simulation Multi-conference (Edinburgh, Scotland, June 16-19), 2008.
  • Balchanos, M.; Balestrini, S.; Weston, N.; and D. Mavris, “Multi-Physics Time-Variant First-Order Model Integration of Complex Systems,” In Proceedings of the 2007 ASNE Conference on Automation and Controls, (Biloxi, MS, December 11), 2007.
  • Zhang, D.; Balestrini, S.; Li, Y.; Weston, N.; and D. Mavris, “A Multi-Agent-Based Control System for the Integrated Engineering Plant,” In Proceedings of the 2007 ASNE Conference on Automation and Controls, (Biloxi, MS, December 11), 2007.
  • Hughes, R.; Balestrini, S.; Kelly, K.; Weston, N.; and D. Mavris, “Modeling of an Integrated Reconfigurable Intelligent System (IRIS) for Ship Design,” In Proceedings of the 2006 ASNE Ship and Ship Systems Technology (S3T) Symposium, 2006.
  • Weston, N.; Balestrini-Robinson, S.; Fulmer, D.D.; and D.N. Mavris, “Design of a Resource Advisor for the Next-Generation Surface Combatant,” In Proceeding of the Thirty-Eighth Southeastern Symposium on Systems Theory (SSST), (Cookeville, TN, March 5-7), pp. 176-180, 2006.