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The University of Southampton
Mathematical Sciences

Boosting spacecraft design

Published: 27 January 2012

The European Space Agency (ESA) will be able to design more efficient spacecraft thanks to a new software toolbox devised by Maths academics at the University of Southampton.

The optimisation software will allow ESA to use new and unique mathematical results to help when designing a variety of spacecraft parts including heat pipes, turbo pumps, injection chambers, as well as helping them plot space missions.

Project leader Joerg Fliege , Professor of Operational Research in Mathematics, said: “Designing spacecraft parts is always a quest for the most efficient and effective result possible. For example heat pipes are used extensively in spacecraft, however, the most efficient heat pipes are invariably heavier than less efficient ones. Our techniques can help space engineers find the perfect trade-off between mass and effectiveness.”

The year-long project Multi-criteria Optimization Add-on for Filter Globalization Toolbox follows on from a successful project for the ESA called The Filter Globalization Toolbox, that included teams from the University of Southampton, the University of Birmingham and the University of Coimbra, Portugal.

This initial project provided ESA with a smaller computational toolbox that helped engineers with some of their design problems. The recent project built on this work by implementing the tools into a high-performance software platform.

The next stage is to test the theory on difficult real-world test cases provided by ESA.

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