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Research Studentship in Numerical study of plumes and booster stage separation in HCMs

Research Studentship in Numerical study of plumes and booster stage separation in HCMs

Project: Numerical study of plumes and booster stage separation in HCMs

4-year DPhil studentship 

Supervisors: Prof Luca Di Mare & Prof Matthew McGilvray

This project will conduct research into base flow and plume interaction during the stage separation phase in the flight of a hypersonic vehicle launcher. At the beginning of the separation manoeuvre, a plume induced separation appears on the leading vehicle, while the trailing vehicle is surrounded by the flow generated by the plume, and a generally asymmetric shock surface. The trajectories of both the leading and trailing vehicle are affected by the flow fields.


The objectives of the proposed study are as follows:

  1. Conduct experiments in the Oxford hypersonic wind tunnels at fixed configurations to obtain reference data for a preliminary numerical campaign
  2. Conduct a preliminary campaign validating external aerodynamic predictions at mission-relevant conditions in presence of plumes, gaps and misaligned bodies in static configurations
  3. Conduct wind tunnel tests with separating bodies using pyrotechnic devices to achieve separation and free flight. Image tracking techniques and onboard instrumentation will be used to obtain quantitative trajectory data.
  4. Conduct a matching numerical campaign aimed at reproducing the observed trajectories
  5. Generate a database of aerodynamic force and moment proximity data and demonstrate their use in a flight dynamics code to reproduce the experimental data obtained in the campaigns at points 1) and 3).


This studentship is funded through the MoD and EPSRC. You must be a British, USA or Australian national (i.e. “a AUKUS national).

Award Value

Course fees are covered for home and overseas students. The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is c. £23,000 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further three years. - if applicable

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in Engineering, Physics or Materials Science
  • Excellent English written and spoken communication skills

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Ability to program in Matlab
  • Design and fabrication of PCBs
  • Antenna and communications electronics


Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Prof Luca Di Mare ( Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria. Details are available on the course page of the University website.

Please quote 24ENGTH_LDM in all correspondence and in your graduate application. 

Application deadline: noon on 19 July 2024

Start date: October 2024