Dynamics and Control of Future Space Access Vehicles

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Project Summary
This PhD works within the system definition and preliminary design phases of the Orbital 500R small payload launch system concept currently under development by Orbital Access Ltd. This follows on from the £1M design feasibility studies conducted by Strathclyde University since 2015.
Using the Orbital 500R, and any other relevant test cases, the project objectives are:
1- Develop mass distribution models of the vehicles to calculate the moment of inertia matrix
2- Develop 6DOF dynamical models applicable to all phases of a launch mission
3- Integrate system models into a multidisciplinary design optimisation framework, developing and adapting methods to lead to an efficient optimisation
4- Develop optimal control strategies and determine guidance trajectories
5- Develop control strategies for predictive on-board control

The technological and economic development of global space industry is currently hindered by exceedingly high launch costs and turnover times. One of the most promising concepts for increasing the availability of space access is reusable launch vehicles, in the form of small/medium payload transfer systems.
The UK is currently very active in this area of research, with an increasing number of companies investing in the R&D of reusable space access vehicles. However, no vehicle of this type is yet fully commercially operational, and the development of such would represent a significant technological breakthrough.
Strathclyde University is recognised in the UK, and internationally, as an authority and pioneer in the field of space transportation design, offering long standing expertise in computational intelligence, space mission analysis and re-entry aerothermodynamics. Recent work has involved the development of system design optimisation methods, guidance and control strategies, and multiobjective trajectory optimisation.
Space Access is a field of research at a critical point in it's development, for both the UK and globally. The successful development of a reusable launch vehicle, such as the Orbital 500R, will significantly advance the UK towards increasing its share of the new global space-enabled market.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513349/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2023
2179057 Studentship EP/R513349/1 01/01/2019 31/08/2022 Ben Parsonage