Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology

About the centre

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The Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology (cFASTT) is a multidisciplinary research unit that aims to develop and integrate the range of technological disciplines that will be required for future high-speed airliners and access-to-space systems to become a reality. Although the Centre's long-term vision is one of enabling a future generation of reusable single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicles, hypersonic cruise vehicles and aero-space planes that will transform the global air-transport infrastructure, its philosophy is that its goals will be achieved through a sequence of technological stepping stones which in their own right will be of immediate application within the aerospace industry.

Key present capabilities include planning and optimization of trans-atmospheric flight trajectories, environmental impact assessment (including the global effect of pollutants, sonic boom, and the exploitation of 'green' fuels), aerodynamics, flight mechanics and control systems for high-speed vehicles, and gas thermochemistry for high altitude rarefied flow and re-entry problems. A capability is being developed in modelling the gas dynamics of advanced propulsion systems, and in the management of thermal loads and both static and dynamic structural deformation of spacecraft structures under simultaneous thermal and aerodynamic load.

The Centre is evolving into a pan-faculty collaboration and presently includes researchers in the Departments of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering. Future development of the Centre will see further development of  'hard' engineering capabilities such as the design and modelling of cryogenic fuel systems and pressure vessels, and also expansion of activities into areas such as the economics, risk management and societal impact of future air-space technology.

Cutting edge research is conducted in the areas of: 

  •  Aerodynamics
  •  Thermodynamics and thermo-regulation
  •  Propulsion and structures
  •  Flight dynamics and trajectory management
  •  Multidisciplinary design optimisation
  •  Regulatory and operational aspects
  •  Physiological issues
  •  Environmental impact
  •  Societal impact

Steady-state and unsteady (time accurate) simulations over complex spacecraft geometries.

Surface velocity-slip/temperature-jump boundary conditions are implemented in a compressible flow code, giving the capability to model the full flight envelope of aerospace vehicles.

Capabilities exist in both micro flows (e.g. micro flow actuators, thin film gas lubrication/cooling, fuel cells) and high-altitude, high speed flows (e.g. ballistic aerodynamics and lifting re-entry).

Strong capability in low-earth orbit and re-entry aerodynamics through our own Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) code.

Trajectory optimisation´╗┐

Capabilities to simulate and optimise trans-atmospheric flight trajectories´╗┐.