Professor Malcolm Macdonald

Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Personal statement

A professional space technology engineer, academic & director with a strong, proven and international record of accomplishment. I am the Director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, and a Non-Executive Board Member of the UK Space Agency.

I was awarded the 2016 Royal Society of Edinburgh Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane Medal in recognition of my “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.”

Distinctively for an engineer, my publications are in journals such as Scientific Reports, and Physical Review E, as well as top-ranking engineering journals. I also led the development of “The International Handbook of Space Technology”, which has sixty contributing authors, including high-profile contributors from Japan, the USA and Europe.

I was the only non-US member of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s committee on ‘Achieving Science Goals with CubeSats’, and I am one of only two European Associate Editors of the Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, the top-ranked archival journal in Aerospace Engineering. I am a member of Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Study Group on ‘Small Satellites for Space Sciences’, as well as providing expert advice to, amongst others, the Institute for Defense Analyses, Science and Technology Policy Institute, based in Washington, D.C.


Identifying effective sink node combinations in spacecraft data transfer networks
Clark Ruaridh, McGrath Ciara Nora, Macdonald Malcolm
Applied Network Science Vol 7 (2022)
Deep internal learning for inpainting of cloud-affected regions in satellite imagery
Czerkawski Mikolaj, Upadhyay Priti, Davison Christopher, Werkmeister Astrid, Cardona Javier, Atkinson Robert, Michie Craig, Andonovic Ivan, Macdonald Malcolm, Tachtatzis Christos
Remote Sensing Vol 14 (2022)
Identifying effective sink node combinations in spacecraft data transfer networks
Clark Ruaridh A, McGrath Ciara N, Macdonald Malcolm
A flexible multi-temporal and multi-modal framework for Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 analysis ready data
Upadhyay Priti, Czerkawski Mikolaj, Davison Christopher, Cardona Javier, Macdonald Malcolm, Andonovic Ivan, Michie Craig, Atkinson Robert, Papadopoulou Nikela, Nikas Konstantinos, Tachtatzis Christos
Remote Sensing Vol 14 (2022)
Investigation of Very Low Earth Orbits (VLEOs) for global spaceborne Lidar
McGrath Ciara, Lowe Christopher, Macdonald Malcolm, Hancock Steven
CEAS Space Journal (2022)
Dynamical influence driven space system design
Clark Ruaridh A, McGrath Ciara N, Macdonald Malcolm
Complex Networks 2021 (2021)

More publications

Research interests

Distinctively my work spans both the upstream space sector (building and operating spacecraft), and downstream space sector (the services and data that come from the spacecraft). With a focus on the end-to-end development and application of space mission systems my work enables new space-derived data product concepts through advances in space technology.

My specific interests are in the use of advanced concepts, such as solar sailing, and multi-spacecraft platforms to enable new space services through the application of concepts from networked systems and swarm engineering, combined with astrodynamics and space system design. The recent development of small, low-cost spacecraft has led to increased interest in deploying large or even very-large constellations of spacecraft to enable new space-derived datasets and services. To-date, this remains challenging due to the limited resources on-board such platforms coupled with the limited payload capacity. By spanning the up and downstream my fundamental research is developing the means to maximise the performance of these resource-limited, low-cost platforms to enable radical enhancements of, or completely new space-derived services and data. As such my research seeks to develop concepts in, and applications of space technology, including solar sailing, nanosatellites, and constellations, by developing research into astrodynamics, networked systems, swarming, and distributed and collaborative systems.

Professional activities

Integration of an LED/SPAD Optical Wireless Transceiver with CubeSat On-board Systems
The New Peers Review podcast episode 3
The New Peers Review podcast episode 2
"New markets: Scottish space industry grows in value to £4bn"
The New Peers Review podcast pilot
Agile Satellite Systems for Responsive Earth Observation
Invited speaker

More professional activities


NEU4SST – Neuromorphic Processing for Space Surveillance and Tracking
Di Caterina, Gaetano (Principal Investigator) Clemente, Carmine (Co-investigator) Macdonald, Malcolm (Co-investigator) Kirkland, Paul (Research Co-investigator)
15-Jan-2022 - 15-Jan-2022
Decision Support for Investment & Economic Development within Sparse Data Markets
Tachtatzis, Christos (Principal Investigator) Andonovic, Ivan (Co-investigator) Atkinson, Robert (Co-investigator) Cardona Amengual, Javier (Co-investigator) Hamilton, Andrew (Co-investigator) Macdonald, Malcolm (Co-investigator) Michie, Craig (Co-investigator)
11-Jan-2022 - 10-Jan-2023
UK Space Agency Business Support Programme
Macdonald, Malcolm (Principal Investigator)
29-Jan-2021 - 31-Jan-2021
eXtended Satellite Production And Constellation Operations
Macdonald, Malcolm (Principal Investigator) McLaughlin, Graeme (Co-investigator) Clark, Ruaridh (Research Co-investigator) Lowe, Christopher (Research Co-investigator) McGrath, Ciara (Research Co-investigator)
04-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2023
Safe Passage – the shifting sands of the Solway Firth
McGrath, Ciara (Principal Investigator) Clark, Ruaridh (Co-investigator) Macdonald, Malcolm (Academic)
Innovation Voucher project with Creative Help Ltd to develop tidal channel mapping services using satellite imagery.
18-Jan-2020 - 12-Jan-2021
NSIP (phase 1) - Global Lidar Altimetry MISsion: GLAMIS
Lowe, Christopher (Principal Investigator) Macdonald, Malcolm (Co-investigator)
02-Jan-2020 - 31-Jan-2021

More projects