Postgraduate research opportunities Decentralised Autonomous Community in Space: DACS


Key facts

  • Opens: Friday 20 January 2023
  • Deadline: Thursday 31 August 2023
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Funding: International fee, Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend


This project aims to accelerate the transition of spacecraft into an IoT sensor network whilst ensuring a sustainable space environment. It envisions transforming space operations into a decentralized autonomous community controlled by its members through a distributed ledger. This will enable machine-to-machine tasking, enabling radically new services whilst ensuring a sustainable future for space exploration and utilisation.
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Aerospace, Electrical, Electronic, Systems, or Computing background (1st or Upper 2nd Class degree, or equivalent); ideally familiar with some or all of with IoT, distributed systems, including ledgers, and programming tools such as Python. Industry experience welcomed.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

The space industry is currently at an inflection point, transitioning from a state where access to space was limited to a select few nations to a state of mass-participation and data availability. The NewSpace era, characterised by the proliferation of access to space and the focus on lowering barriers to entry, is driving this change. The number of spacecraft in low-Earth orbit, and the data and services they provide, is growing exponentially and will continue to do so over the coming decade. However, our current methods for conceiving and operating space systems have remained largely unchanged since the dawn of the space age. This not only limits our ability to fully exploit space-based data and services, but also poses a risk to the safety and sustainability of the space environment.

The lack of meaningful legislation in place to sustain space for future generations highlights the urgent need for action. Much like the urgent action needed to address the climate crisis, we must act now to ensure the sustainability of space for future generations.

As spacecraft become increasingly connected, they will transition into an Internet of Things, IoT, sensor node, forming an Earth-encompassing, pervasive and ubiquitous network of distributed, taskable computing systems and sensors with high Byzantine fault tolerance. This project aims to accelerate and exploit this transformation, ensuring a sustainable space environment through an incentivised and voluntary system of coordinated movements to ensure situational awareness and self-separation. This will instigate a fundamental transformation in how we conceive and operate spacecraft, allowing for machine-to-machine, M2M, tasking and enabling the shift towards large networks of cooperative, self-organising satellites in a sustainable space environment. This will deliver radically new space services and businesses.

The project will lay the foundations for transforming space operations into a Decentralised Autonomous Community (DAC). A DAC is controlled by its members through a distributed digital ledger, such as Blockchain, rather than being influenced by government(s), international treaties, or large corporate interests. The rules-based order is maintained on the ledger and participation is motivated through collective self-interests. The DAC provides a platform for community decisions reached through consensus, such as a sequence of required orbital manoeuvres to ensure self-separation, while ensuring immutability of data and immunity to censorship.

The project will develop both the concept and methods for Decentralised Autonomous Community in Space, DACS, addressing the sustainability of our space environment while also enabling M2M tasking through smart contracts. Ultimately, this project aims to transform how we perceive, design, operate, and exploit space systems, ensuring a sustainable future for space exploration and utilisation.

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Funding details

Standard EPSRC Stipend

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Professor Macdonald

Professor Malcolm Macdonald

Electronic and Electrical Engineering

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Application enquiries should be to Professor Macdonald and Dr Lowe at the email address.

Number of places: 1

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Contact us

For further details please contact