Fabien Royer

Fabien Royer

Assistant Professor
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Fabien joined Cornell in January 2023 as an assistant professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He leads the Cornell Space Structures laboratory. Prior to that he was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Fabien obtained his MSc and PhD in Space Engineering from Caltech, as well as his Diplôme d’Ingénieur from ISAE-SUPAERO (French national institute for Aeronautics and Space). At Caltech, Fabien worked in Prof. Pellegrino's Space Structures Laboratory where his research focused on ultra-lightweight shell structures, their instabilities, and their application to very large space solar power spacecraft. He also worked on the AAReST (Autonomous Assembly of a Reconfigurable Space Telescope) small satellite mission for which he led part of the spacecraft software and hardware development. In addition to his research, Fabien co-chaired the Caltech Space Challenge 2019, an international student space mission design competition. Fabien was awarded the William F. Ballhaus Prize for outstanding doctoral dissertation by the Caltech Aerospace Department (GALCIT), as well as the Ernest E. Sechler Memorial Award for most significant contribution to the department’s teaching and research effort. In addition, he received the Shirley Thomas Academic Scholarship from the Aerospace Historical Society, and he is a Fellow of the Keck Institute for Space Studies.

Research Interests

The Cornell Space Structures laboratory focuses on creating novel structures in space to dramatically increase the capabilities of satellites and infrastructures in orbit. They are particularly motivated by the role novel spacecraft architectures can play in addressing major societal issues such as climate change. For instance, large aperture systems can form better space radars for climate monitoring, and space-based solar power satellites can convert sunlight into microwaves and send power directly where it is needed on Earth. To create these new systems, the Cornell Space Structures laboratory leverages extremely thin fiber composite laminates – thinner than your hair – to form ultra-lightweight and very large structures (max dimension > 50 m). In particular, the lab’s research investigates how to predict and overcome these structures’ fundamental limitations, how to create new in-space manufacturing and assembly concepts, and how to engineer active space structures which do more than just carrying loads.

Selected Publications

  • F. Royer, J. W. Hutchinson, and S. Pellegrino. Probing the Stability of Thin Shell Space Structures Under Bending. International Journal of Solids and Structures 2022, 111806. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsolstr.2022.111806.
  • F. Royer, and S. Pellegrino. Probing the Stability of Ladder-Type Coilable Space Structures. AIAA Journal 2022 60:4, 2000-2012. doi: 10.2514/1.J060820


  • M.Sc. (Aerospace Engineering), ISAE-SUPAERO, 2016
  • M.Sc. (Space Engineering), California Institute of Technology, 2016
  • Ph.D. (Space Engineering), California Institute of Technology, 2021