PhD Studentship in The application of 3D Printing to Satellite Demisability University of Southampton, Education Hub (Engineering & the Env) United Kingdom

PhD Studentship: The application of 3D Printing to Satellite Demisability

Education Hub (Engineering & the Env)

Location: Highfield Campus

Closing Date: Thursday 31 May 2018

Reference: 986618MM

Satellites are designed to ensure that they survive all the environments that they will be subjected to. Traditionally these environments have included manufacture, testing, transportation, storage, and launch as well as the mission orbit. However, the space environment is becoming more severe as a result of the ever increasing number of space debris objects. This has led to research within the space community focusing on the sustainable use of the space environment and this work will impact regulations and guidelines for satellite manufactures and operators. Ultimately, to minimise the number of objects in space it is desirable where possible to deorbit satellites at the end of their mission lifetime. Once re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, ideally all the significant mass components of the satellite should be burnt up thereby creating no impact risk for the Earth’s population. This phase of the satellite’s mission is known as demise. The successful demise of a satellite can only be achieved by a good initial design. Therefore this means that the post mission disposal and demise of spacecraft will also impact the initial design requirements. However, the breakup of satellites during re-entry is not well understood and this is an area of ongoing research.


This PhD will build on research that has recently been performed as part of the European Union funded project ‘ReDSHIFT’ ( In ReDSHIFT the University of Southampton collaborated with Belstead Research Limited to look at the application of 3D metal printing to spacecraft demisability. High temperature testing was performed on some initial 3D printed samples of spacecraft primary structures with promising results suggesting that monolithic structures can be tailored to give a better breakup performance than traditionally manufactured primary structures.


This PhD position will be in collaboration with Belstead Research Limited and aims to investigate the application of 3D metal printing for spacecraft demisability. The ideal candidate will have an excellent Aerospace of Mechanical Engineering degree with some experience in spacecraft design, 3D printing or thermal testing


If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr S.J.I. Walker, Astronautics research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 3882.


Apply online here:

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