Rita Fernandes Neves, a second year space engineering researcher at Cranfield University, has been awarded a prestigious Amelia Earhart Fellowship for her work in designing trajectories for space missions.

Rita’s research focus, looking at how exploiting simultaneous interactions with the gravitational fields of space bodies can enable space craft to travel using minimal fuel consumption, saw her as one of 35 winners worldwide.  Her PhD subject “Design of Low-Energy Earth-Resonant Trajectories” particularly focuses on this exploitation in missions close to the Earth’s own gravitational field, yet not orbiting around the Earth.

The US$10,000 award, established in honour of the famous aviator whose name it bears, is awarded annually to 35 women who are carrying out research degrees in aerospace-related sciences and engineering.

Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace at Cranfield University, applauded Rita Neves’s success: “Cranfield has a strong record of technical excellence in the field of space engineering. We are particularly proud of our commitment to women working in space, and it is great to see this reflected in one of our researchers being recognised with such a prestigious award.”

Commenting on her research, Dr Joan Pau Sanchez Cuartielles, said: “Rita’s work offers new insights into fundamental techniques for trajectory design; the award is very timely and will allow her to disseminate her work and receive valuable feedback from the wider scientific community.”

Rita Neves reflected: “I am honoured to have been awarded the Amelia Earhart Fellowship, which has had so many inspiring women as its members over the years and will allow me to push forward my academic career.”

Neves plans to use the award to support a three-month secondment at Italy’s Politecnico di Milano later this year, working with a group developing methods to control orbital maneuvering through orbital perturbations, as well as travelling  to international conferences. 

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.