A research centre dedicated to revolutionising future air and space travel – and putting Scottish space engineering on the map – has been launched at the University of Strathclyde.
The Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology (cFASTT) brings together a multi-disciplinary team of engineers and scientists to research the technologies that will be required for tomorrow’s high-speed airliners and access-to-space systems.
Space travel and the technology surrounding it has often been the domain of the United States of America, however, as the US Space Shuttle Programme nears its final mission, the centre will help establish Scotland as a world leader in the field.
Professor Richard Brown, director of the centre, said: “With the end of the shuttle programme almost upon us, there is a fantastic opportunity for Scotland to play its part in advancing the technology that will take us into the next of age of space travel.
“The programme was not without severe technological and economic problems and at Strathclyde, with the launch of the FASTT Centre, we will be able to develop the crucial technologies that will address these issues and redesign the shuttles of the future.
“It is crucial that we draw inspiration from the airline industry and look at designing space craft that are re-useable and thus more affordable. If this can be achieved, and we believe it can, then it will radically change our ability to enter space and a world of opportunity awaits.
Researchers at the FASTT Centre are using a range of computer simulations to investigate and define the potential for future technological advances. Their tools are supported by experimental measurements and flight-test data from organisations around the world.
The work builds on the success of the University’s Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory – a world leader in frontier research on visionary space systems. Opened in 2009, the Laboratory’s researchers are investigating how new space technologies can be used to deliver radically new space services, such as increased telecommunications capacity and new orbits for Earth observation and space science missions.
Professor Brown recently travelled to San Francisco to attend the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics International Conference on Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems. He was able to strengthen ties with similarly focused research centres in the United States, Australia and Japan.
He added: “Our work is part of a world leading programme of private-company activity in the UK that needs more credit than it has received. Companies like Reaction Engines, with their innovative Skylon launch vehicle, have shown that private enterprise, when supported by a strong academic foundation, can play a leading role in defining how we access space in future. Here in Scotland we plan to make a major contribution to a renaissance in British Space Engineering.”
4 July 2011