PhD in Health Monitoring of Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) components within ASCenSIon project (ESR1)

  • Contract
  • Posted 4 weeks ago
  • Start 1 October 2020
  • April 19, 2020

Company Details

Technische Universität Dresden (TUD) is one of the largest technical universities in Germany and one of the leading and most dynamic institutions in the country. With 18 faculties in five schools, it offers a wide range of degree courses and covers a broad research spectrum with a focus on Health Sciences, Biomedicine & Bioengineering, Information Technology & Microelectronics, Smart Materials & Structures, Energy, Mobility & Environment as well as Culture & Societal Change, a combination of disciplines which is considered to be exemplary in Germany and throughout Europe. The TUD has about 32,400 students, one seventh of which come from abroad and 8,300 staff hailing from 70 countries. TUD ranks among the Top 100 of Europe’s Most Innovative Universities and in 2012 became one of the German “Universities of Excellence” ( The Chair of Space Systems belongs to the School of Engineering Sciences at the Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) which enjoys an excellent reputation: over 10,000 students, almost 2,000 employees in 40 institutes and centres contribute daily to engineering sciences. As part of it, with 24 employees, the Chair of Space Systems develops highly innovative space propulsion systems, their own sounding rocket as a platform for chemical rocket engines and small satellites with more than 20 space proven payload systems. That also compromises small sensor systems for different space applications, which is in focus as a part of this present project.

About ASCenSIon:

The purpose of the ASCenSIon project is to develop a programme that focuses on several specific areas of cutting-edge space access research, particularly on launcher systems that are (partially) reusable and capable of injecting multiple payloads into multiple orbits. More than providing design concepts, the network aims to identify and advance critical technologies to prove a feasibility of these concepts. Fields of research and training include propulsion technologies and their reusability; Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC); aero-thermo-dynamics of re-entry and safe disposal. A variety of technologies will be advanced, including hybrid rocket engines, electric pump feeding and advanced nozzle configurations. Both computational and experimental (cold-flow and hot fire) techniques will ensure an efficient process and reliable results. The reuse of propulsion systems demands an assessment of their durability. It will be conducted by numerical simulations, system analysis with EcosimPro/ESPSS and experimental test runs. The development and integration of wireless sensor networks will allow health monitoring of these critical subsystems. Moreover, novel GNC strategies and processes have to be developed for the whole mission trajectory. This includes solutions for optimised flexibility w.r.t. the orbital insertion conditions as well as dedicated descend trajectories and GNC missionisation for re-entry. The models will cover various recovery concepts and the support of multiple landing sites. This requires an extensive examination of the aero-thermodynamics during re-entry as well as of the interactions between stage recovery and propulsion system layout. Ecological and economical sustainability will be addressed as new payload concepts including large constellations increase the demand for safe disposal and space debris mitigation to ensure an open access to space in the future. Furthermore, the utilisation of so called green propellants will be investigated.

The ASCenSIon consortium includes Technische Universität Dresden, German Aerospace Center, SITAEL, Sapienza Università di Roma, ONERA, Université libre de Bruxelles, Hochschule Bremen, Università Di Pisa, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Politecnico di Milano, DEIMOS Space, ArianeGroup, ESA, AVIO, OHB, D-Orbit, SpaceForest and Telematic Solutions.

About the host organization

That also compromises small sensor systems for different space applications, which is in focus as a part of this present project. (

Your PhD project:

The focus of the PhD project is on fundamental investigations that allow the subsequent development of a monitoring system that helps the operator of a reusable rocket to decide the reuse of the system at a high security level.

Problem Definition:

In reusable systems, health monitoring of critical subsystems is mandatory during operation in order to account for all influences and to ensure a safe and reliable access to space independent from the previous uses.

Research Objectives:

  1. Investigation of different possible sensor technologies and requirements of the various RLV subsystems
  2. Development of models, strategies, algorithms for exploitation of sensor measurement results for the critical evaluation of all RLV mission phases
  3. Investigation of their respective structural, electrical and communication integration into the RLV subsystems like engines or structures

Expected Results:

  1. Selection of sensors for time dependent data such as temperature and pressure distribution, critical gases, vibration, shock, electrostatic, -magnetic loads, acoustic emission, thermal insulation degradation etc. for integration in Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs)
  2. Strategies for the integration of WSNs in RLV subsystems including signal propagation power supply, structural integration and linking strategy
  3. Algorithms for health monitoring of RLV, matching their mission design
  4. A preliminary follow-up actions plan for maintenance and re-usage based on results of diagnosis and prognosis


  • You will be working within our international group of > 30 researchers with experience in a broad range of sciences
  • You will get in contact with the other members of this international consortium and will benefit from the joint training platform to develop skills necessary for developing a thorough understanding of space transportation systems
  • You will be employed by the host organization for 36 months
  • A competitive salary plus allowances. Moreover, funding is available for technical and personal skills training and participation in international research events
  • You will benefit from the well-structured training programme offered by the host organization and the consortium
  • You will participate in international conferences and secondments to other organisations within the ASCenSIon network and in outreach activities targeted at a wide audience

Please find additional information in the Information package for Marie Curie fellows.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants can be of any nationality.

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master’s degree but cannot begin before having received it.

H2020 MSCA Mobility Rule: researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organization (Germany) for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status are not taken into account. Eligible researchers must not have spent more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the date of selection in the same appointing international organisation.

H2020 MSCA eligibility criteria: Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) must, at the date of recruitment by the host organization, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. Full- Time Equivalent Research Experience is measured from the date when the researcher obtained the degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged). Applicants who do not fulfill these requirements CANNOT be considered for the research position.

Selection process

For the selection procedure, the ASCenSIon consortium will appoint a Committee, consisting of at least three members: one main supervisor, two co-supervisors and the project coordinator from University of Dresden. The preliminary selection is made by review of the application documents specified below. The final selection will be made after interviews with the final candidates. The applicants will be informed about rejection or admission to an interview by end of May at the latest. The interviews will take place either in person at the host institution or via video-conference. The timeframe for the interviews is May – June.

Additional comments

 Application Interested candidates are invited to submit one single PDF containing the following documents in this exact order:

  • Application form (Click on “Where to apply” at the top of the page to download it)
  • Cover letter
  • CV
  • Educational and professional certificates (university degree(s) with marks, internships, workshops, languages, etc.)

Moreover, you must submit:

  • Short video (max. 30 s.). The video must include: personal introduction, background, motivation to apply to the research position… show us why you are the ideal candidate!

The Application subject must be “Application for ESR1 position”.

The application size incl. attachments must not exceed 30 MB in total.

You will receive an automatic reply if we have received your email. Please avoid any questions on the status of the selection process. We will inform you as soon as there is an update.

Candidates whose application is not compliant with the requirements above will not be considered.

Expected start date: 1 October 2020

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

Candidates can apply to more than one position.

We in the ASCenSIon consortium value diversity and we commit to equal treatment of all applicants irrespective of gender, sexuality, health status as well as social, cultural or religious background.

Offer Requirements



Essential skills:

  • MSc or equivalent in the field of mechanical or electrical engineering
  • Knowledge or experience in at least one of the following areas: – Measurement/Sensor technologies (structure, thermal, pressure, electrostatic, magnetic loads, acoustic and/or gas sensors) – Signal and data processing – Integration of electronic components – Data driven software tools
  • Good ability to think in systems / interfaces / interactions between multiple parameters
  • Ability to work highly efficient and self-reliantly in a diverse inter-disciplinary and multicultural environment
  • Ability to work in a team, as well as independently
  • Ability to solve complex problems with adherence of strict deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills (both written and verbal) in English to derive the full benefit from the network training
  • Proactive attitude
  • As secondments and events are foreseen, applicants must be ready to travel
  • Applicants must be eligible to enroll on a PhD programme at the host institution (see…)

Desired skills:

  • Good knowledge on rocket and propulsion systems
  • Experience in laboratory work including the design, conduction and evaluation of experiments
  • Project management
  • Knowledge of the host institution language is a plus

Tagged as: phd

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