Lars Blackmore

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Lars Blackmore's Research

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NEWS: I recently appeared on The Science Channel to talk about our work on reusable rockets. A clip is here.

About me: I am at Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), where I am responsible for Entry, Descent and Landing of the Falcon 9 rocket, as part of our reusable launch vehicle program. My team developed the precision landing technology for the Grasshopper rocket, the F9R-Dev rocket, and the F9R reusable booster stage. F9R recently completed the world's first precision landing of a booster stage, landing within ten meters of its target. Subsequently, we attempted to land the stage on our floating ocean platform, but a stuck throttle valve in our main engine prevented success...barely:

You can reach me at lars [dot] blackmore [at] spacex [dot] com.

Previously I was in the Guidance and Control Analysis Group at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, part of the California Institute of Technology, where I developed control and estimation algorithms for NASA's future space missions. I co-invented the G-FOLD algorithm for precision landing on Mars, and was part of the SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) mission, which launched in January 2015.

In 2007 I finished my PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Model-based Embedded and Robotics Systems group, under the supervision of Brian C. Williams. My thesis was on control and estimation of stochastic systems, especially hybrid discrete-continuous systems, and I am currently continuing research in this area. I am particularly interested in chance-constrained optimal planning, that is, finding the best plans such that the probability of failure is below a given threshold. I am interested in applications in autonomous air and space systems.

Previous research has been in control and estimation for Formula One racing. My MEng thesis was with the McLaren team, and in my first year at MIT I carried out a project with the Jaguar team (now Red Bull Racing).