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Technische Universität Dresden
Institut für Luft- und Raumfahrt
Christian Bach
Marschnerstr. 32
01307 Dresden

Phone: +49 (351) 463-38097
Fax: +49 (351) 463-38125

Early Stage Researchers (ESRs)

ESR1 - Andrea Vennitti

Technische Universität Dresden (TUD)

I am an Early Stage Researcher within ASCenSIon project and I am currently doing an interdisciplinary PhD at Technische Universität Dresden in collaboration with both “Space Transportation” and “Small Satellites” departments. I have a master degree in Electronic Engineering achieved at University of Bologna, Italy, where I graduated with an experimental thesis on the “Re-design of a Sensor Network and development of an Ultrasound System”. The study focused on two main aspects: on the development of a new concept for the structural establishment of heterogeneous sensor networks, and on the design of an Ultrasound system (pulser and receiver) for the Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) of railways tracks. I have technical skills in both digital and analogic circuits design and I want to use my know-how of SHM and sensor technologies for Aerospace Engineering.

My research activities within ASCenSIon are focused on: investigation of different possible sensor technologies and requirements of the RLV subsystems; development of models, strategies, algorithms for exploitation of sensor measurement results; investigation of their respective structural, electrical and communication integration into the RLV subsystems. During my free time I like to make little projects, aiming to improve the user experience about everything that can be enhanced.

Knowledge is fundamental to all human achievements and progress. It is both the key and the quest that advances mankind. Your library is a storehouse for mind and spirit, use it well.

- Neil Armstrong -

ESR2 - Giuseppe Scarlatella

Technische Universität Dresden (TUD)

I gained my Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering at Università degli Studi “Federico II” in Napoli, then I moved to Politecnico di Torino for my Master’s Degree in Propulsion Systems, where I refined my basics on fluid dynamics of turbomachinery, both chemical and electrical space propulsion, aircraft engine design and aeroacoustics. The Technische Universität Munchën hosted me for my Master’s thesis in space propulsion, where I designed, assembled and tested a schlieren system for optical analysis on a combustion chamber fed by green propellants, within the TRR40 collaborative research centre. As my first work experience, I was employed by GE Avio Aero, in charge for performance evaluation of TU RB199, turbofan jet engines of PA-200 Tornado military aircrafts, on commission by Italian Air Force.

In the role of ESR2, I will investigate both reusable main stages and re-entry solutions, focusing on advanced nozzle concepts for retro propulsion applications and recovery strategies. In particular, the strategies adopted for recovery and their extend impact many critical engine design requirements, such as propellant consumption and structural design, while the investigation on plume/flow interactions during retro propulsion maneuvers offers a challenging opportunity to determine flow field conditions during re-entry phase of reusable main stages.

Is our capacity to doubt that will determine the future of civilization.

- Richard Feynman -

ESR3 - Guillermo J. Dominguez Calabuig

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

I am an Early Stage Researcher in Systems Aspects of Reusable Space Transportation Systems at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Universität Bremen researching the preliminary design of reusable launchers and its structural layout. I graduated from a BSc Aerospace Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, and from a MSc in Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology within the Space-flight track and with a thesis in Optimum On-board Abort Guidance based on Successive Convexification for Atmospheric Re-Entry Vehicles. In addition, I worked on Small launchers Guidance Navigation and Control at the Dutch Aerospace Center (NLR), Aircraft towing performance and cost estimation of recovery operations for reusable vehicles at DLR, launchers systems design and GNC of reusable launchers at Deimos Space. I also assisted to the ESA Alpbach Summer School 2018 on sample return from small solar system bodies, and performed the Interactive Space Program 2020 edition from the International Space University on Space and Pandemics. My research interests involve structural analysis, optimization, optimal control, multi-disciplinary design, sustainability, mission analysis and GNC.

Oh no, not again...

- Bowl of petunias from Douglas Adams's "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -

ESR4 - Mateusz Gulczyński

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

Mateusz Gulczyński works at DLR German Aerospace Center Lampoldshausen in Rocket Engine Systems Dept. – System Analysis Control Group under supervision of Prof. Dr. Michael Oschwald, Dr. Jan Deeken and Dr. Günther Waxenegger-Wilfing. He has joined the Ascension Project MSCF in 2020.

My project is focused on propulsion systems and their reusability. The research is concentrated on implementing methods for fatigue life estimation of highly loaded rocket engine components into low order tools for rocket engine cycle modelling. The low order tools are used to derive liquid rocket engine architectures, which are optimized for RLV (reusable launch vehicle) applications requiring high numbers of reuses and low refurbishment costs.

A development of reusable launch system is crucial for lowering the costs of access to space, hence making it possible for a commercial future space traveling in a similar manner as aircraft journey.
The studies on design concepts of reusable launch systems and how reusability influences the design of components with particular focus on the propulsion system, will help in achieving that objective.

To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.

- Mikołaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus) -


ESR5 - Lily Celine Blondel

ESR6 - Felix Weber

Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza” (USR)

My name is Felix and I was born in Ribnitz-Damgarten on the Baltic Sea in the north east of Germany. I am very passionate about space science, outdoor sport activities, travelling and getting to know foreign cultures. Within the ASCenSIon consortium my individual research project is the position regarding the Advanced Nozzle Concepts (ANCs) for reusable launch vehicles at Sapienza - University of Rome.

Close to my home place I first studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Rostock. During this bachelor's degree course and also because of an internship at Diehl Aerospace, I noticed that I was particularly interested in aerospace sciences. That’s why I did my master studies in Aerospace Engineering at the Technical University of Brunswick. At this university I developed my passion for space propulsion systems. Hence, I specialised in this field. I did my project thesis at DLR in Brunswick in the field of numerical simulations of cooling channels of liquid rocket engines. But to gain also experiences in the industrial environment I prepared my master thesis in the Propulsion analysis of OHB Systems AG in Bremen. Here I worked in the field of thrusters - satellite contamination simulation. This was a very stimulating working environment for me since I attended teleconferences with ESA and met representatives from NASA - JPL. I would like
to apply these skills during my PhD.

I am a very communicative person who feels very comfortable in an international environment. An example is in this context my semester abroad at the University of Glasgow. My dream was therefore to also do my research work abroad.

The ingenuity of a construction lies in its simplicity. Anyone can build complicated.

- Sergej P. Koroljow -

ESR7 - Melissa Teresa Lantelme

Office national d’études et de recherches aérospatiales (ONERA)

The research for my PhD project on “Aerothermodynamic Modelling for Reusable Launchers” focuses on developing an analytical model to predict the wall heat flux for multiple trajectories and different vehicle designs using a CFD database.  The research is conducted mainly at the French Aerospace Lab (ONERA) Toulouse with two research periods at ArianeGroup SAS and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Bremen. I studied mechanical engineering in a German-French double degree program with a focus on fluid dynamics and computational methods. Through this programme I received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from the KIT Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and a Diplôme d'ingénieur from INSA Lyon (National Institute of Applied Science). I gained further scientific experience during an internship at the European Space Agency (ESTEC) in the Netherlands in 2017 and during research activities at the German Aerospace Centre in Cologne in 2019 for my Master thesis on "Energetic characterization of Martian atmospheric flow in the arc-heated wind tunnel L2K using experimental and numerical methods".  Several international summer schools and experiences abroad enriched my scientific knowledge and strengthened my intercultural and interdisciplinary competencies.

What I love about science is that as you learn, you don't really get answers. You just get better questions.

- John Green -

ESR8 - Christopher Karl Glaser

Office national d’études et de recherches aérospatiales (ONERA)

Although I am a big fan of everything Science-Fiction related, I am happy to be working in the ASCenSIon project to make the vision of a sustainable launch vehicle for Europe rather ‘Science’ than ‘Fiction’.  My research topic at ONERA is the design of the Hybrid Rocket Engine for ASCenSIon’s upper stage.

I studied Aerospace Engineering at RWTH Aachen University and specialized in Space Propulsion. Past professional experiences at Airbus DS, OHB System, KMUTNB Bangkok as well as my final thesis at JAXA in Tokyo will help me to unravel the true potential of Hybrid Rocket Engines.

In your face, Neil Armstrong.

- Mark Watney (The Martian) -

ESR9 - Riccardo Gelain

Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

I am working for the ASCenSIon project at Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), where I focus on experimental research on N2O/Paraffin hybrid rocket motors for advanced upper stage applications.

I studied Aerospace Engineering at University of Padua (Italy), graduating with a thesis on experimental and numerical activities on a N2O/Sorbitol hybrid rocket motor, carried out with the student rocketry team DARE of Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands). I also hold the Second Level Master Degree in Space Transportation Systems: Launchers and Re-Entry Vehicles of Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), where I graduated cum laude with a thesis on the design of an additive manufactured pintle injector for a LOX/Methane liquid rocket engine.

Before joining ASCenSIon, I worked in Padua on experimental investigation of H2O2/Paraffin hybrid rocket motors, and in the Cryogenic Propulsion Systems Department of AVIO S.p.A. (Colleferro, Italy) on the development of the VEGA-E upper stage LOX/Methane M10 liquid rocket engine and on innovative injector head research programmes.

The task is not just to understand the world but to change it.

- Karl Marx -

ESR10 - Livia Ordonez Valles

Hochschule Bremen (HSB)

As an Early Stage Researcher within the ASCenSIon consortium, I am working on the Feasibility Demonstration of Electric Pump Feeding at the Hochschule of Bremen. This novel technology aims to improve the upper stages' performance capabilities while using green propellants.

I studied an MSc in Space Engineering at the University of Pisa (Italy), and I also received two Bachelor's Degrees from the University of Leon (Spain) and Coventry University (UK). Passionate about space exploration and particularly about space propulsion, I spent one year at Sitael S.p.A doing my internship in green chemical propulsion for small satellites.

Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.

- Yuval Noah Harari -


ESR11 - Jakob Balkenhohl

Università di Pisa (UniPi)

I am ESR no. 11, Jakob Balkenhohl, working on the overall system design of green expendable upper stages at Università di Pisa. This includes the implementation of green propulsion systems, electric pump-feeding, HRE’s and novel GNC solutions for multi-payload injection.

I received my bachelor’s degree in physics from the Humboldt University in Berlin focusing on experimental physics and astronomy, but decided to take my studies into a more engineering focused direction during a study year abroad at the University of Washington in Seattle. After a semester as a guest student at the TU Berlin, I enrolled in the master’s program in aerospace engineering at the University of Stuttgart specializing in space flight technology and space utilization. Most recently, I wrote my thesis on the design and construction of a test setup for novel hypergolic propellants at the DLR Institute of Space Propulsion. My passion for research in rocket propulsion and my interest in making space access more efficient both economically and ecologically speaking are what brought me to the ASCenSIon project. I am excited to be here!

The most dangerous thing you can do in life is to play it safe.

ESR12 - Lucía Ayala Fernández

Technische Universität Braunschweig (TUB)

Originally from Spain, I graduated in Aerospace Engineering at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. When I finished my Bachelor’s, I moved to Kiruna, in the Swedish Lapland, to start my master studies in Space Science and Technology. On the other hand, the second year of my master’s was conducted in Toulouse (France). During this time, I participated in different courses that made me aware of the space debris issue, and I decided to focus my career in helping to alleviate this problem. My master thesis on the “Impact of Collision Avoidance Manoeuvres on Large Satellite Constellations” allowed me to keep exploring my two passions in the space field, which are flight mechanics and space debris. Within ASCenSIon, I am in charge of the reliability and safe disposal of the reusable launch vehicles. I will conduct the research needed to ensure that the new generation of launchers does not leave any trace in space. In my free time, I practise taekwondo, and I love travelling and discovering new places.

I have no special talents. I am just passionately curious.

- Albert Einstein -

ESR14 - Alice De Oliveira

Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi)

I am Alice De Oliveira, a French student. After two years of preparatory classes in Lyon, I have decided to join the engineering school ENSTA Bretagne in Brest. Particularly, I had the opportunity during my second year to spend one semester at Tongji University in Shanghai to study Mechanical Engineering. I was then graduated with a “Diplôme d’Ingénieur” in Pyrotechnics and Propulsion, but also with a MSc in Astronautics and Space Engineering in a double degree program with Cranfield University in the UK. For the latter, after having studied launch vehicles and controlled atmospheric re-entry for a space mission design group project aiming to assemble large GEO satellites directly on-orbit, I have achieved my master thesis on Design and Analysis of Robust Guidance Algorithms for Mars Entry Problem. I have therefore studied advanced guidance algorithms for the Entry, Descent, and Landing of a capsule containing a rover at Mars, like reference-trajectory tracking and predictor-corrector guidance methods for the entry phase, and fuel-optimal convex optimization algorithms for the powered descent phase to ensure a pinpoint landing. These projects raised my awareness of GNC for reentry scenarios.

Selected as the ESR14 in “Optimal Trajectories for Reusable Launchers Re-entry” within ASCenSIon project, my aim is to develop robust GNC algorithms capable, on the one hand, of coping with the non-linearities of the re-entry dynamics and the uncertainties of the atmospheric and aerodynamic models, and on the other hand, of allowing an optimal and safe pinpoint landing on Earth.

Personally, I am convinced that making space more accessible economically and ecologically is the next logical and necessary step in space innovation and that this goal cannot be achieved without international collaboration. Thus, I am very excited to be part of a European team within ASCenSIon to take up this challenge!

A man is nothing but the series of his actions.

- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Part One of the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences: The Logic, 1817 -

ESR15 - Jacopo Guadagnini


I am Jacopo Guadagnini, an Italian student. I have been selected for the PhD position of the ITN Marie-Curie programme, working on Ascension project at Deimos Space, in Madrid. I studied Aerospace Engineering for the bachelor degree, and then Space Engineering during the Master. Both have been carried out at Politecnico di Milano. I developed my master thesis in Deimos Engenharia in Lisbon, during a 6 months internship. The thesis focuses on Model Predictive Control and the novel “successive convexification” techniques for the re-entry guidance of reusable space launchers. The thesis is titled “Model Predictive Control for Reusable Space Launcher Guidance”. I presented the work of my thesis at the 71st International Astronautical Congress (IAC). I have been charmed by the Space since I was a child, so I decided to undertake this path to give my contribution for the future space missions. My other hobbies are sports, music and movies. My greatest passions, with space engineering, are football, I had played agonistic football for 17 years, and travels.

Within ASCenSIon I am ESR15 and my research focuses on the development of a Mission Analysis (MA) and Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) missionization tool for the future European re-entry vehicles. It will allow to minimize the tailoring efforts (cost and time) required for the tuning of the variable mission and GNC at each re-flight.

Step by Step

Funding and Coordination

Also see our profile at CORDIS.

The project leading to this application has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 860956.

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Quelle: https://ascension-itn.eu/Early_Stage_Researchers_%28ESRs%29

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