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Oxford Thermofluids Institute | Research - Research Themes: Hypersonics


The recent interest in commercial space flight and hypersonic air travel from companies such as Reaction Engines, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX (among others) has considerably raised the importance of hypersonics research. Hypersonics is the study of high-speed flight, typically Mach 5 (five-times the speed of sound) or higher. At these high speeds, substantial changes in airflow occur.

Research in the field typically focuses on modelling the physics of these flows and understanding the changes caused by this in engine components in order to mitigate their effects.

Hypersonics research at the Oxford Thermofluids Institute dates back to Prof. Donald Schultz’s pioneering work in the 1960s. Our focus is primarily on experimental research relevant to planetary entry, atmospheric cruise and access to space.

Our world leading Hypersonics Group’s expertise spans the following areas:

  • Cooling technologies
  • Hypersonic boundary layer transition
  • Hypersonic intake performance
  • Novel heat transfer gauges
  • Shock layer radiation
  • Satellite end-of-life and demise