Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

available in the fields of Astrodynamics and Sustainable Space Mission Design. Please contact me for more information, providing a CV and a description of your research interests.

Personal profile


I am a Lecturer in Aerospace Systems at the University of Manchester, specialising in Astrodynamics and Space Mission Design. My research aims to develop new, sustainable approaches to space mission design that will provide vital data needed on Earth, while preserving our fragile space environment for generations to come. In my teaching, I try to use examples from my own research to demonstrate how theoretical engineering principles can be applied to real world challenges and inspire the engineers of tomorrow. My public engagement aims to make complex ideas accessible to everyone, through hands-on examples, podcasts, radio interviews, written articles, and public talks. The work that engineers, even space engineers, do, touches every aspect of our lives. I hope that by sharing this knowledge I can encourage people to join the conversation and influence the engineers of today, by sharing their vision for tomorrow.

Research Projects

  • From Launch to Business Insight: Developing a framework to assess the environmental cost of satellite data with consideration of technical, economic and governance aspects. In collaboration with Callala Ltd and Ltd. July 2023 - ongoing.
  • Safe Passage: Tracking shifting estuaries with remote sensing techniques to aid lifeboat rescue services. In collaboration with Nith Inshore Rescue and the University of Strathclyde. June 2022 - ongoing.
  • SURROUND: Monitoring Solar Radio Bursts with a Constellation of CubeSats. In collaboration with the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. June 2022 - Dec 2022. Learn more.


AERO21111: Space Systems (Lecturer)

The design and operation of spacecraft is a multidisciplinary operation covering many aspects of engineering. This course introduces: the physics of orbits and the space environment; the basic physics of spacecraft propulsion; orbit manoeuvres; and the key drivers for thermal design, power systems, communication systems and attitude control systems. 

AERO31521: Conceptual Aerospace Systems Design (Mentor)

This course provides practical experience of project engineering team approaches to conceptual design for space systems, leading up to a preliminary design review. This includes requirements analysis, development of systems models, demonstration of concept feasibility, and engineering trade-offs.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Analytical methods for satellite constellation reconfiguration and reconnaissance using low-thrust manoeuvres, University of Strathclyde

External positions

Associate Editor, AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets

Mar 2022 → …

Areas of expertise

  • TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
  • Astrodynamics
  • Space mission design
  • Orbit mechanics
  • Mathematical modelling

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Futures


  • Astrodynamics
  • Orbit Mechanics
  • Space Mission Design


Dive into the research topics where Ciara Mcgrath is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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