posted September 5, 2001

Prof Researches Flight Control

A Hope College professor's expertise in flight control produced a busy summer that included a grant for work at Hope, two months as part of a cooperative project in Ohio, and two patents for work he'd done before coming to the college.

Dr. Joseph Kaloust is an associate professor of engineering who joined the Hope faculty in the fall of 2000. His specialization in aerodynamics, flight and related systems stems most immediately from the five years he spent at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control - Dallas, as well as from his graduate work at the University of Central Florida.

In August, Kaloust wrapped up two months at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio through the 2001 "Summer Faculty Research Program" of the Air Force's Air Vehicles Directorate. The only researcher from an undergraduate school chosen to participate, he was part of a team developing a computer algorithm to help crews of hypersonic aircraft determine safe landing sites in the event of an emergency.

"The summer research involved the development and analysis of possible landing sites (footprint) for hypersonic vehicles in emergency situations," Kaloust said. "The vehicle under study was the next generation single- stage-to-orbit shuttlecraft named 'X-33' or 'Star Venture.' The reason for choosing the X-33 is because of the availability of the aerodynamic database."

Although such hypersonic aircraft are still in the research phase, Kaloust noted that they are in development. The team based its calculations on one vehicle currently on the drawing board: the X-33 "Star Venture" designed as the next generation shuttlecraft. Although NASA recently canceled its involvement in the X-33 project, Kaloust noted that the U.S. Air Force remains interested in the hypersonic aircraft.

In May, Kaloust and Hope junior Bryant Loomis of Fredonia, N.Y., examined control systems through a grant from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium. Through the project, "Attitude Control System (ACS) for Spacecrafts and Satellites," they designed, simulated, implemented and compared two types of system controllers and evaluated them based on three categories: tracking accuracy, electrical power consumption and computational processing power. They will be presenting their results at the Michigan Space Grant Consortium Conference at the University of Michigan this October.

His two patents, received in May and June of 2001, are for a "Stall and Recovery Control System" (SARCS) and "Enhanced Stall and Recovery Control System" respectively, a flight control system (autopilot controller) designed to maintain aircraft stability before, during and following a stall. In a stall, an aircraft loses forward flying speed and body lift, and as a result begins to drop.

Kaloust teaches courses in electronics, controls, and in electricity and magnetism. He did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, completing his doctorate immediately before joining Lockheed-Martin in 1995.