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Strathclyde to lead the EU's 'Stardust' space debris project

04 October 2012

Academics at the University of Strathclyde are to lead the first research-based training network of its kind to investigate the removal of space debris.

Dr Massimilano Vasile
Dr Massimilano Vasile

The ‘Stardust’ project will train the next generation of scientists, engineers and policy-makers with Strathclyde leading 14 partners across Europe in a new €4m programme. The European Commission-funded network will launch early next year. 

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “The observation, manipulation and disposal of space debris and asteroids represent one of the most challenging goals for modern space technology. Stardust will provide Strathclyde with the opportunity to make the significant advances needed to help protect our planet.”

Stardust will be led by Dr Massimilano Vasile of the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, which is also the base for the Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory – a research hub which is delivering new approaches to space systems engineering.

Dr Vasile said: “Asteroids and space debris represent a significant hazard for space and terrestrial assets and could have potentially devastating consequences for our planet. The two share a number of commonalities. Both are uncontrolled objects whose orbit is deeply affected by a number of gravitational and non-gravitational interactions, both have an irregular shape and an uncertain attitude motion, and both are made of inhomogeneous materials that can respond unexpectedly to a deflection action.

“Such a significant multidisciplinary technical challenge, with real societal benefit for the future, represents a compelling topic for a training network. I am delighted that we have secured this level of funding and we are looking forward to pushing the boundaries of current technologies and developing the next generation of space experts.”

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