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03 October 2023

Freeman Air and Space Institute marks three-year anniversary

The Freeman Air and Space Institute, based in the School of Security Studies, celebrates three years since its inaugural launch.

The Freeman Air and Space Institute team smile for a group photograph in front of the London skyline.
The Freeman Air and Space Institute team with Head of School, Professor John Gearson.

On 23 September, the Freeman Air and Space Institute (FASI) celebrated three years since its inaugural launch. Since its inception, FASI has been committed to a singular mission: to provide independent and original research and analysis of air and space power issues.

The institute has come a long way since it’s online launch during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and this year is proudly hosting its third Annual CAS Lecture with Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton. Alongside larger events such as this, FASI continues to run a whole host of in-person, hybrid and online events. Recent events include an online roundtable on the Defence Command Paper 2023 with Mr Will Jessett, Visiting Professors Mr Peter Watkins and Sir Christopher Coville, and a summer lecture on space and sustainability with the Rt Hon Lord David Willetts.

Through pursuing its goal of sponsoring and producing original and internationally recognised research on air and space-related matters, FASI has developed a series of open-sourced articles called ‘Freeman Papers’ and written several op-ed style pieces that have supported air and space education at King’s College London and beyond.   

It is fantastic to see how much progress FASI has made since its establishment three years ago. Through the research we produce and sponsor, and our busy events schedule, we are making important contributions to scholarly, policy, doctrinal and strategic debates as these relate to air and space. Our expanding number of staff is a testament to our growing impact and will enable us make even greater contributions going forward.

Professor Wyn Bowen, Co-Director of the Freeman Air and Space Institute

Cultivating the next generation

A further goal of FASI is to identify, develop and cultivate the next generation of air and space thinkers in both academia and industry. The Institute now has three fully funded PhD students completing their research projects and is actively engaged with and supporting several other candidates across the School of Security Studies.

New PhD research on the influence of women on the RAF’s development

Sophy Higgins has been awarded a fully funded Doctoral Award Studentship by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership and her project is a Collaborative Doctoral Award between FASI and the RAF Museum.

Sophy's project will explore the ways in which gender affected the development of the Royal Air Force in the early twentieth century. It will analyse the contributions of those influential women behind key military and political leaders of the RAF beyond their familial and domestic relationships. It aims to reframe historical narratives of the RAF to explore the ways in which these women actively shaped the organisational and social culture of the institution, helping to consolidate the RAF’s survival and success in the inter-war period.

FASI PhD candidate awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

FASI PhD candidate, Arun Dawson, is now a month into his Guggenheim Fellowship at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – home to the world's largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft. During his tenure, Arun will be researching and writing about the influence of the United States on the Royal Air Force’s procurement of combat aircraft post-Suez.

The Guggenheim Fellowship, which counts Richard Hallion amongst its previous holders, is a competitive, in-residence appointment for pre-or postdoctoral research in aviation and space history.

Arun said of his award, ‘I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to examine the unexplored wealth of archival material, interview key protagonists in the Washington metropolitan area, and discuss my research with a world-leading community of aviation historians.’  After the fellowship, I will return to the UK equipped not only with a more sophisticated treatment of my research question but having also developed critical competencies as an airpower scholar.’ 

To keep informed about the latest research, opportunities and events from FASI, subscribe to their mailing list or contact the team at

In this story

Wyn Bowen

Professor of Non-Proliferation and International Security

Arun Dawson

PhD Candidate

Sophy  Higgins

PhD Student