23 April 2008

The University of Queensland has signed a memorandum of understanding with NASA to continue close collaboration on hypersonic propulsion projects.

Hypersonics is the study of velocities of Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) or more.

The University of Queensland’s Centre for Hypersonics, one of the largest space engineering University groups in the world, conducts research into all aspects of hypersonic flight.

This includes test facilities, air-breathing engines, rocket flight-testing, aerothermodynamics, computational fluid dynamics and optical diagnostics.

Head of the UQ HyShot Group and the Chair of Hypersonic Propulsion, Professor Michael Smart, said the new MOU continued UQ’s history of collaboration with NASA over the past 20 years.

“Exchanges of staff and students and research collaborations between UQ and NASA were pioneered by Australia’s first professor of space engineering, UQ’s Emeritus Professor Ray Stalker,” he said.

“This new agreement continues opportunities for Australia’s next generation of space engineers to gain international expertise.”

Professor Smart returned from NASA Langley in 2005 to work on air-breathing engines known as scramjets, and to share his expertise with postgraduates.

“I was lucky to spend time at Langley and would like to see the cream of the crop of our new graduates have the same opportunities,” he said.

He said the new MOU would give UQ access to NASA’s state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research and provide for exchange of staff.

The first activity under the MOU was the recent visit to UQ of NASA Langley research scientist Jeffery White to provide instruction in NASA’s state-of-the-art CFD code for hypersonic flows, called VULCAN.

UQ postdoctoral researcher and imminent PhD graduate Rowan Gollan, who was supervised by Dr Peter Jacobs, will visit NASA Langley for a year starting in July 2008 as part of a two-year experimental and numerical hypersonics study.

Hypersonic aerodynamics is a major research activity at UQ. The researchers in this group have been active internationally and are involved in collaborative research programs with about 20 universities and research organisations around the world.

Media: Professor Michael Smart telephone 07 3365 3783 or Jan King at UQ Communications 0413 601 248