Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology


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Strathclyde researchers have been experiencing life on Mars

Here you can find the interview for Scotland Tonight to Martin Kubicek, a PhD student within FASTT, who spent two week in the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.

Strathclyde researchers set for mission to Mars

Martin Kubicek, PhD candidate  based in the Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology, and Elif Oguz, post graduate student in the Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Marine Engineering, will visit the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah to investigate the problems a future manned crew could encounter on the Red Planet as members of Crew 135. They will conduct research in the latest phase of the Mars Analog Research Station (MARS) project – a global programme that provides scientists and engineers with the opportunity to experience the same constraints as they would on the planet. (read more)

Student experiment shorlisted for REXUS 16/17

The experiment HYPER LANDERS, currently under development at both Strathclyde University and the University of Naples Frederico II, has recently been shortlisted for the next REXUS 16/17 launch campaign. The primary objective of the two-capsule experiment is to verify the efficiency of a re-entry capsule based on a new concept of deployable Thermal Protection System (TPS) for future de-orbit and payload recovery missions from low Earth orbits named LANDERS, comparing its re-entry performances against a more conventional Apollo-like capsule named HYPER. 

Part of the team here at Strathclyde University (Alessandro Mogavero, Javier Herrera Montojo and Romain Wuilbercq, all from cFASTT) and other team members from Naples University have been invited to ESA ESTEC on the 3rd of December to defend the experiment and hopefully secure their flight ticket.

IAC 2013

64th International Astronautical Congress, Beijing, China, 23-27 September 2013. (webpage). cFASTT contributed with the paper "Global Error Estimation in CFD Mesh Coarsening Process for Uncertainty Quantification Methods", by M. Kubicek and E. Minisci

Conference "The Future of UK Aerospace Industry"

Prof. R. Brown, Director of the Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology, will give a talk at the Conference "The Future of UK Aerospace Industry" (held at the NATS Centre Prestwick on 5 September 2013): "The aerospace industry, future technology and commercial prospects".

UK Space Conference

Prof. R. Brown, Director of the Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology, gave a public talk next week at the UK Space Conference (held in Glasgow on 15-17 July 2013): "Around the world in 80 minutes – the future of air-space transport."


5th European Conference for Aeronautics and Space Sciences Munich, Germany, 1-5 July 2013 (webpage)

cFASTT contributed with the paper "Re-entry trajectory optimization for a SSTO vehicle in the presence of atmospheric uncertainties"

cFASTT-1 makes a public appearance

Technology demonstrator cFASTT-1 makes a public appearance

FASTT at the Strathclyde Research Presentation Day

FASTT researchers at the Strathclyde Research Presentation Day (27 June 2013) presented:

- Alessandro Mogavero, PhD candidate, "Aerodynamics and thermodynamics of hypersonic propulsion for aerospace vehicles" 

- Martin Kubicek, PhD candidate, "Uncertainty Quantification for Hypersonic Flows by Multi-Fidelity Approach"                       

Sandpit 'UQO13'

(08-03-2013) UQO13 the perfect marriage between Uncertainty Quantification and Optimisation

An event organized by the Uncertainty Quantification & Optimisation cluster at the University of Strathclyde: Dr. M. Vasile, ASCL - Dept of MAE, Dr. E. Minisci, cFASTT - Dept of MAE, Dr. K. Akartunali, Business School, Dr. M. Revie, Business School, Dr. I. Whitfield, Dept of DMEM.

IMechE's Edwin Walker Prize 2011

(14-12-2012) Prof. Richard Brown has just been awarded the IMechE's Edwin Walker Prize 2011 for 'the best paper on a power industries mechanical engineering subject published by the Institution in the previous year or for a contribution or for achievement'. The award recognises Prof. Brown's paper: "Effect of blade geometry on the aerodynamic loads produced by vertical-axis wind turbines", F Scheurich, T M Fletcher, R E Brown (2011) Proc IMechE A - Journal of Power and Energy, 225(A3):327-341.

CPD in Space Mission Analysis and Design

(22-26 October 2012) Staff of cFASTT are contributing to the delivery of the CPD course "Space Mission Analysis and Design" in Rome, organised in partnership with the Italian company Vitrociset.

FASTT at the 18th AIAA/3AF International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference

Staff from the Centre will be participating in the 18th AIAA/3AF International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference, 24 - 28 September 2012, Tours, France.

Two works will be presented:

  • Towards Robust Aero-Thermodynamic Predictions for Re-Usable Single-Stage-To-Orbit Vehicles
  • Ascent Trajectory Optimisation for a Single-Stage-to-Orbit Vehicle with Hybrid Propulsion

FASTT at Glasgow Riverside Museum

As part of its public outreach programme, staff from the Centre will be participating in the Glasgow Science Festival's 'Pushing the Boundaries' event in partnership with colleagues from Reaction Engines, the designers of the Skylon spaceplane.

Come along to the Glasgow Riverside Museum between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 9 June to hear and see how the Centre's research is enabling the air and space transport systems of the future.

FASTT acknowledged by a motion in the Scottish parliament

Business Bulletin No. 88/2011: Friday 8 July 2011

S4M-00482 (Drew Smith)

Opening of the FASTT Centre at the University of Strathclyde

That the Parliament congratulates the University of Strathclyde on the opening of its Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology (FASTT); understands that it will work on the design and development of reusable space craft; notes that it has already shown ways to improve on-shuttle telecommunications capacity and plotted new observations for Earth orbits and science missions; considers this a world-leading centre, and hopes that it will make a considerable contribution to the future of space travel and to Scottish science and engineering success.

Supported by: John Pentland, Patricia Ferguson, David Torrance, Roderick Campbell, Kevin Stewart, Mark Griffin, Neil Findlay, Neil Bibby, Patrick Harvie, Hanzala Malik, Bob Doris.


Engineering Insight [Autumn/Winter 2011 – Issue 04]

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, the final mission of the US Space Shuttle Programme took place in July 2011, and so the centre will help establish Scotland as a world leader in the field.

Professor Richard Brown, Director of the Centre, said: "With the shuttle programme completing their final mission in July, there is a fantastic opportunity for Scotland to play its part in advancing the technology that will take us into the next 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 essential that we draw inspiration from the airline industry and look at designing spacecraft that are reuseable 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.

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 the future. Here in Scotland we plan to make a major contribution to a renaissance in British Space Engineering.”

The full article is available to download.


Director Richard Brown quoted in CNN article about Skylon.

'Skylon' space plane aims to fill void left by Discovery

By Matthew Knight for CNN
March 10, 2011

London (CNN) -- NASA's space shuttle Discovery has completed its final mission, with Endeavour and Atlantis following it into retirement later this year. It marks the end of a historic chapter in space travel, but a new one might not be light years away if a groundbreaking design for a fully reusable spacecraft can get off the ground. "Skylon" may only be at the concept stage but it could usher in a new era of space exploration and discovery, says its UK-based designers, Reaction Engines Ltd.

Key to the Skylon proposal is a hydrogen fuel-powered rocket engine called SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) designed by the company's managing director Alan Bond. SABRE, which Bond first described back in the early 1980s, is a "combined cycle rocket engine with two operational modes." Mark Hempsell, future programs director at Reaction Engines Ltd, said: "The engine starts by burning hydrogen with air and finishes up burning hydrogen with liquid oxygen like a shuttle engine."

This all happens in the same rocket engine chamber, Hempsell says, allowing Skylon to take off and land in a similar way to conventional aircraft, unlike NASA's shuttles and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Ariane five rocket, which need expensive disposable rocket boosters to propel them into orbit. Hempsell says the idea is to carry passengers, satellites and cargo for the International Space Station, but he also envisages Skylon -- which is around 90 meters long and can transport payloads of up to 12 tons -- supporting future missions to the moon and Mars. Bond's idea is "very original," says Richard Brown, director of the Center for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology at the UK's University of Strathclyde -- independent providers of technological and design support to Reaction Engines Ltd.

"It's a problem that's been considered for a long time -- the idea of how you end up with an engine with efficiency all the way up into orbit. There are other related ideas but Bond's is probably the most efficient," Brown said. "We need to do some fundamental research to understand some of the aspects of the craft a little bit better but Bond needs to be given enough funding to allow this engine to be demonstrated," he added.

"It's a very doable system," Hempsell said. "The basics of the engine are thoroughly rooted and explored, so there is no danger they aren't going to work. We feel that this should have taken over from the shuttle a while back."

Nevertheless, he's full of praise for the space shuttle, saying it has done a "superb and spectacular job," but a lack of investment at the design phase led to compromises being made, he thinks. "The original design was to have two aeroplane-like vehicles stacked on top of one another, which would have made it fully reusable," he said.

In theory, at least, Reaction Engines hopes Skylon can perform the task in one vehicle, but it needs more money to push the project forward. Around 80% of current funds come from private equity, Hempsell says, with public money making up the rest -- the bulk of which came with a €1 million ($1.4 million) award from the ESA in 2009. Reaction Engines Ltd estimates the total costs of developing Skylon will be around $10 billion -- a hefty bill, but one which could be well worth it, says Brown.

"If you look at the development costs of something like Airbus's A380 airliner we're not really talking about a huge amount of money," he said. He added: "At present, access to space is incredibly expensive. If you can redesign spacecraft so that you can reuse them, this will reduce the costs dramatically."