Willem Jordaan


I am currently a senior lecturer in the Electric and Electronic Engineering Department, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.  I obtained my PhD at Stellenbosch University in 2015.  My dissertation mainly focused on the deployment and control of solar sailing satellites.  During and since my post-graduate studies I have been involved in a number of satellite missions and contributed in the development of a variety of satellite hardware mainly focused on attitude control.  Current research focus is on creating control systems which adjust according to environment or the status of the vehicle itself.

Contact Details:



I have taught the following undergraduate courses:

  1. Electro Technique 214 (Circuit Theory and Electric Machines)
  2. Computer Programming 143 (Introductory to Programming)
  3. Computer Systems 214 (Introductory to Computer Systems)
  4. Computer Systems 414 (Embedded Systems)
  5. Control Systems 314 (Feedback Control) – currently busy


Study leader for the following completed Master theses:

  1. “Deployment and dynamics of a spinning solar sail”, L. Hibbert, March 2019 (co-supervised by Prof W.H. Steyn).
  2. “Pose estimation with stereo cameras”, W.C. De Jongh, March 2019 (co-supervised by Dr C.E. van Daalen).

Study leader for the following uncompleted Master theses:

  1. “Control of a Flexible Payload with a Quadrotor”, A.P. Erasmus started 2018.
  2. “Development of a Test Facility for Satellite Docking Experiments”, D.C. Jansen started 2019 (co-supervisor with Dr L. Visagie).
  3. “Vision-based Control of a Flexible Unknown Payload with a Rotary Wing UAV”, J.F. Slabber started 2019.
  4. “Neural Network Based Adaptive Controller On A Drone”, H. Kotzé started 2019 (co-supervisor with Dr H. Kamper).
  5. “Automated Navigation and Charge Docking of a Rotary Wing UAV”, P.R. Grobler started 2019.



I am interested in a number of different fields including: Control systems, Computer systems, Satellite systems, Unmanned vehicles and general robotics.  A number publications are listed below:


Papers at Peer-Reviewed Conferences/Symposia

  1. “Spinning Solar Sail in an Earth-Centred Orbit”, HW Jordaan & WH Steyn, 5th UN/Japan Nanosatellite Symposium, Nagoya Japan, 10-13 Oct 2012.
  2. “The Attitude Control of a Tri-Spin Solar Sail Satellite”, HW Jordaan & WH Steyn, 3rd International Symposium on Solar Sailing, Glasgow Scotland, 11-13 June 2013.
  3. “Attitude Manoeuvres of a Tri-Spin Solar Sail Satellite”, HW Jordaan & WH Steyn, SACAC Control Systems Day, University of Cape Town, 27 Nov 2013.
  4. “An Active Attitude Control System for a Drag Sail Satellite”, WH Steyn & HW Jordaan, Paper IAC-15.B4.6A.1, 66th International Astronautical Congress, Jerusalem Israel, 12-16 Oct 2015. Proceedings ISSN 1995-6258
  5. “Gyro-Control of a Solar Sailing Satellite”, HW Jordaan & WH Steyn, 4th International Symposium on Solar Sailing, Kyoto Japan, 17-20 June 2017.
  6. “Considerations in the Design and Deployment of Flexible Booms for a Solar Sail”, L Hibbert & HW Jordaan, 5th International Symposium on Solar Sailing, Aachen Germany, 1-3 August 2019.

Publications in Journals

  1. “An active attitude control system for a drag sail satellite”, WH Steyn & HW Jordaan, Online available since July 2016, Elsevier & Science Direct, Acta Astronautica, 128 (2016), pp. 313-321, 2016.

Published Book Chapters

  1. “The OuterNet: A novel satellite communication relay constellation”, M-A Kearney, PJ Botma, HW Jordaan, J Gerber, E Thesnaar, F Nolte, A Erlank, C Groenewald, A Barnard, Book Chapter in: Innovative Ideas for Micro/Nano-Satellite Missions, IAA Book Series,Vol.1, No.3, 2013, ISBN/EAN IAA: 978-2-917761-28-1.
  2. “The Attitude Control of a Tri-Spin Solar Sail Satellite”, HW Jordaan & WH Steyn, Book Chapter in: Advances in Solar Sailing, Publisher Springer Praxis Books 2014, pp.755-769, ISBN: 978-3-642-34907-2.
  3. “A Nano-Satellite Constellation for Tracking and Monitoring Endangered Wildlife in Developing Countries”, JH le Roux, A Heunis, G Janse van Vuuren, A Barnard, HW Jordaan, D Steyn, N Rossouw, M Bin Othman, N Calitz, M Junaid & C Groenewald, Book Chapter in: Inventive Ideas for Micro/Nano-Satellites The MIC3 Report, IAA Book Series, Vol.1 No.5, 2015, ISBN/EAN IAA: 978-2-917761-38-0, pp.37-49.
  4. “Graphene Foam Deorbit Sail with Failsafe Release Mechanism”, Jürgen Lüdemann, Jurie H. Wessels, Aaron Buysse, André-Jan Merts, Arno Barnard & Hendrik W. Jordaan , Book Chapter in: Innovative Ideas on Micro/Nano-Satellite Missions and Systems Report on Deorbit Device Competition (DDC) and Mission Idea Contest (MIC4), IAA Book Series, Vol.1 No.7, 2017, ISBN/EAN IAA: 978-2-917761-55-7, pp.63-76.