The possibility of thermal protection in an earth re-entry flight by the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) flow control with an air-core circular magnet producing about 1 T or less on the wall surface of a space vehicle is examined by r-z two-dimensional numerical simulations. The present study adopts a hemisphere with a radius of 1.0 m as the nose shape of a space vehicle. The numerical results show that aerodynamic heating can be reduced by the MHD flow control with an air-core circular magnet, and also that the maximum wall heat flux and the effect of the MHD flow control become prominent with the magnitude of coil current and the flight altitude. Furthermore, it is found that there is an optimum magnet size to maximize the effect of MHD flow control under constant exciting magnetic energy, and also the optimum size gets reduced with the decrease in the flight altitude. © 2009 Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.