Malcolm Macdonald (engineer)

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Malcolm Macdonald

Malcolm Macdonald, July 2018
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow (B. Eng. (Hons) and PhD)
Known forSpace technology
Network science
Solar sailing
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2021)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2021)
Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (2013)
Royal Society of Edinburgh Makdougall Brisbane Prize (2016)
European Engineer (2008)
Chartered Engineer (2008)
Scientific career
FieldsSpace technology, aerospace engineering
InstitutionsUniversity of Strathclyde
UK Space Agency Steering Board
University of Glasgow
ThesisAnalytical methodologies for solar trail trajectory design (2005)

Malcolm Macdonald FRAeS FRSA FRSE FREng is a Scottish space technology engineer, academic,[2] and director. He is a Professor and the Chair of Applied Space Technology at the University of Strathclyde, and a visiting professor at University College Dublin.[3] He was Director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications,[4] SoXSA, from 2014 - 2020, and a non-executive member of the UK Space Agency Steering Board from 2017 - 2020.[5][6] He is an acknowledged expert in space research,[7] and in 2021 was referred to in the media as "Scotland's leading space expert".[8]


Malcolm Macdonald studied at University of Glasgow, graduating with a first in Aerospace engineering in 2000. He completed his doctoral research in Astrodynamics at University of Glasgow from then until the end of 2002, graduating in 2005,[9] where we studied with Colin R. McInnes.

Career and research[edit]

After completing his doctoral research Macdonald continued to work with Colin R. McInnes as his Research Assistant until the end of 2004. In 2005 Macdonald joined SCISYS where he worked on projects including LISA Pathfinder and ADM-Aeolus,[10][11][12] prior to joining the University of Strathclyde in 2008.[10]

Macdonald describes himself as "a professional space technology engineer, working in academia".[11] His research is in space technology, including small satellites and solar sails, as well as astrodynamics, and network science.[2] He was awarded the 2016 Royal Society of Edinburgh Sir Makdougall Brisbane Medal, for "outstanding research work in the development and application of space mission systems to challenge conventional ideas and advance new concepts in the exploration and exploitation of space."[13] He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2021.[14]

Macdonald was the only non-US member of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's committee on Achieving Science Goals with CubeSats,[15] and a member of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Study Group on Small Satellites for Space Sciences.[16] He was also a member of International Academy of Astronautics study group 4.23 on Post-Mission Disposal for Micro and Smaller Satellites: Concepts and Trade Studies.[17]

Macdonald has been an associate editor of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics since 2009,[18] and led the development of The International Handbook of Space Technology, as well as contributing several chapters.[19] This Handbook has sixty contributing authors, including high-profile contributors from Japan, Europe, and the US, including a foreword by Elon Musk.

Macdonald is also involved in the commercialisation of space through his role as the director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications,[4] which supports the application of space data and services as well as the development of technology that enables this data and services. He also founded the Data.Space conference, held annually in Glasgow, and which attracts c-suite speakers and thought leaders from across the world.[20][21]

Outreach and media[edit]

Malcolm Macdonald at the DATA.SPACE2017 conference in Glasgow, Scotland

Macdonald is frequently quoted by national and international media[22][23][24] on topics relating to the space industry, and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio and Television, including BBC Radio Scotland shows such as Good Morning Scotland and Drive Time,[25] as well as appearing on television shows such as the BBC Daily Politics Show and STV's Scotland Tonight.

Macdonald is also the co-creator & co-producer of a so-called science quiz show, New Peers Review, which is broadcast on Deutsche Welle's Spectrum radio show.[26][27]

He also regularly delivers talks to branches of learned societies, such as the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Physics, as well as to local science, engineering, and astronomy clubs. He has also worked with the BBC to broaden understanding of issues related to space, such as the re-entry of Tiangong-1,[28] with CBeebies programme Nina and the Neurons for the episode Earth Explorers, and with BBC Radio Scotland to put a Red Nose into near-space for Comic Relief in 2013.[29]

Awards and honours[edit]

Recognition of his engineering achievements includes:


  1. ^ Malcolm Macodnlad on Twitter
  2. ^ a b Malcolm Macdonald publications indexed by Google Scholar
  3. ^ "University of Strathclyde Visiting Professor at UCD for Space Week to bolster Irish space sector ambitions". 12 October 2021. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Scottish Space Sector Soars With New Funding Boost". DIGIT. 25 May 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Strathclyde expert Malcolm Macdonald appointed to UK Space Agency's steering board". The National. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  6. ^ "UK Space Agency, Our governance". Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Space, Scotland's New Frontier". The Herald. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  8. ^ "'UFO' seen by hundreds of Scots across the country explained by top space expert". Daily Recird. 28 September 2021. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  9. ^ Macdonald, Malcolm (2005). Analytical methodologies for solar trail trajectory design (PhD thesis). University of Glasgow.
  10. ^ a b "The Appliance of Science". BQ Live. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Meet Malcolm Macdonald, our new Non-Executive Steering Board Member". 8 August 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Dr Malcolm Macdonald, Uni. of Strathclyde". 21 October 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Early Career Prizes". Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  14. ^ "The RSE announces 2021 Fellows". Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  15. ^ Achieving Science with CubeSats: Thinking Inside the Box (Report). Washington, DC: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. doi:10.17226/23503. ISBN 978-0-309-44263-3.
  16. ^ COSPAR Roadmap on Small Satellites for Space Science (4S). COSPAR 42nd Assembly. Pasadena CA. 18 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Homepage of the Study Group 4.23". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  18. ^ "AIAA JGCD Masthead". AIAA. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  19. ^ The International Handbook of Space Technology. Springer. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Caledonia dreaming: Think Scotland, think space". Deutsche Welle. 29 March 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Hey, there are ethical uses for satellites too!". Deutsche Welle. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  22. ^ "Space, the final frontier in independence debate". The Scotsman. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  23. ^ "Snap elections in space, uncertainty on Earth". Deutsche Welle. 31 July 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  24. ^ "No Irish. No blacks. No dogs. No Galileo". Deutsche Welle. 17 May 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  25. ^ "UK spaceport proposed for Sutherland site". BBC. 16 July 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  26. ^ "Spectrum: New Peers Review takes on neurodegeneration". Deutsche Welle. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Spectrum: New Peers Review takes on AI". Deutsche Welle. 10 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  28. ^ @BBCNewsbeat (13 March 2018). "Tiangong-1 Re-entry" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ "In pictures: Red Nose goes into space site". BBC. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  30. ^ "Professor Malcolm Macdonald FREng FRSE". Retrieved 26 December 2023.
  31. ^ Kristy Dorsey (22 April 2021). "Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards: The full list of winners". The Herald. Glasgow.
  32. ^ "University Honoured for Space Technology Work". The Herald. Glasgow. 22 September 2012.
  33. ^ "THE Awards 2011: Shortlist". Times Higher Education. September 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2018.


External links[edit]