University of Southampton – Astronautics Group




​​The University of Southampton began life in 1862 as the Hartley Institution, became a University College in 1902 with degrees awarded by the University of London and then was granted a Royal Charter to become the University of Southampton in 1952. It is now ranked among the top one per cent of universities in the World and is a founding member of the prestigious Russell Group, which brings together the knowledge and resources of 24 top UK universities who work together to protect and improve the quality of university teaching, support and facilitate innovative research projects, and build stronger links with business leaders and policy makers. 

The University has around 24,000 students, of whom 8,000 are post-graduates, and comprises eight faculties, two of which are involved in space propulsion: 

  • the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment (FEE), which incorporates the Astronautics Group, which has interests in space systems engineering and both electric and chemical propulsion; and 
  • the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, one of whose academic units is Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) which incorporates the Plasma and Space Science Group, with a strong interest in electric propulsion. 

​The Astrona​​utics Group and the Plasma and Space Science Group are physically separated and do not work together and have their own interests, research areas and customer bases. 

The Astronautics Group’s areas of research include: electric propulsion and plasma diagnostics; chemical propulsion; additive manufacturing; materials science and spacecraft systems engineering and design. The group also teaches the MEng Aeronautics and Astronautics degree programmes as well as a Space Systems Engineering Course for Industry. In order to support these activities, the Astronautics Group has a number of space environmental test facilities, including: the David Fearn Electric Propulsion Laboratory; the Thermal Vacuum Test Facility; the Graham Roberts Jet Propulsion Laboratory; the Engineering Manufacturing and Design Centre; and the ISVR acoustics group.

The Astronautics Group has excellent facilities to support its space systems engineering activities and its in-house research interests and developments in both electric and chemical propulsion. The Group is happy to collaborate with external users subject to availability of resources and normal commercial arrangements.​​​