The contract is the first to be awarded by the space agency outside the USA. Scientists at Cranfield are world-ranked experts in research into reducing noise, emissions and energy consumption by aircraft propulsion systems.
Led by Professor Riti Singh, Cranfield has already developed new concepts in propulsion and air frame efficiency. Their work with NASA could transform aerospace propulsion, the professor said.
The research is funded by a NASA grant from funds left by Scottish space enthusiast John Murnin, who bequeathed half of his substantial estate to NASA after he passed away in May 2010.
Professor Singh, a leading world figure in the field of aerospace propulsion systems, said: “This unique partnership is a first for the UK and an incredible opportunity for our researchers and students to be involved in work that could one day revolutionise air travel, much like the arrival of the jet engine did in the 1950s.”
Cranfield scientists have carried out a number of studies into propulsion, aircraft design and electrical systems. The work with NASA will look at distributed propulsion systems of the future.
NASA project manager Dr Ruben Del Rosario said: “Professor Riti Singh and his team have conducted various studies in this area of research, which we judge to have gone further than many institutions.
“Cranfield has developed appropriate methods to understand the economic and environmental aspects of these advanced aircraft and propulsion concepts. By joining forces, both parties are able to better simulate and analyse such concepts.”