Space Engineering

Space engineering expertise is dispersed across the College of Science and Engineering between various research groups and Departments, with an obvious focus in and via the Space Research Centre. The various aspects of this work are broken down as follows:

Instrumentation development

The SRC develops both space and ground instrumentation for its own research and for applications. This includes all aspects from proof of concept through systems engineering and project management to flight instruments. The work includes development of medical devices in conjunction with colleagues in the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology. The SRC is a key partner in the Diagnostics Development Unit.

For further information please contact:

Beagle 2
Beagle 2 Prototype

Dr Paul Drumm, SRC Senior Project Manager -

Professor Mark Sims -


Jon Sykes, SRC Lead Mechanical Engineer -

Space mechanical, thermal and optical engineering

The SRC, via its Siemens NX CAD system, undertakes detailed mechanical and thermal design of instruments and components. This includes vibration analysis, and correlation with both mechanical and thermal test results. The SRC is the process of developing a capability in optical engineering via use of Zeemax optical design software.

For further information please contact:

Jon Sykes, SRC Lead Mechanical Engineer - or Piyal Samara Ratna, SRC Mechanical and Systems Engineer -

Space nuclear power systems

The University of Leicester is the lead UK institution involved in the European Space Agency’s programme to develop Space nuclear power systems. This development is based largely upon the use of the radio-isotope Americium-241, which can be chemically extracted from nuclear waste, although other aspects of Space nuclear power are also researched. Aspects of this include thermo-electric power conversion technologies, which have a range of applications in energy scavenging. This work is conducted in close collaboration with Airbus Defence and Space UK, Lockheed Martin UK, Queen Mary University of London and European Thermodynamics Ltd.

For further information please contact:

Dr Richard Ambrosi

Orbital and radiation analysis

The University of Leicester undertakes mission orbit and space radiation analysis as both part of its space instrumentation development and as a research topic in its own right. This work is based around use of Analytical Graphics' system toolkit mission analysis software, along with GEANT (Geometry and Tracking) radiation analysis software from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). For further information please contact: Dr Nigel Bannister

Electronic engineering

The University of Leicester has considerable expertise in space electronics (both analogue and digital) and high performance high speed electronics as well as reliable low-power embedded systems. This latter area includes work on fault-tolerant image and data processing as well as information and decision making systems for use on board spacecraft, which are carried out in the Embedded Systems research group. Targeted implementation approaches include Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) and processor based systems.

The Space Research Centre has an electronic workshop capable of designing, assembling and testing space electronics including a surface mount component capability. Electronics capabilities are as follows:

  • Space Electronics Design and Construction in Space Research Centre. For further information please contact Dr Paul Drumm, SRC Senior Project Manager or Duncan Ross
  • Embedded systems in Department of Engineering. FPGA and Processor Based Systems. For further information please contact Professor Tanya Vladimirova
  • Digital Electronics and High Speed Electronics in Space Research Centre: For further information please contact Dr Jon Lapington
  • Analogue and Digital Electronics in Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group: For further information please contact Dr Chris Thomas
  • Space Electrical and Power Electrics Engineering in the Department of Engineering (see bottom header of this page).
  • Space Weather and Communications: For further information please contact Prof. Michael Warrington


Space Electrical and Power Electrics Engineering

Electrical power is a vital resource for future space travel and planetary exploration. Advances in general power engineering including efficiency, reliability, power density, integration density, extreme environment capability and modularity will ultimately promote exploitation of space electrical systems.

Electrical power capabilities are as follows:

Power Electronics Research: High reliability, radiation hardened and high temperature power devices and associated drivers. Design of power electronic converters. For further information please contact Dr Bing Ji Photograph of the University of Leicester main campus

High-Temperature Superconductivity Research. Advanced modelling, prototyping, and characterization of superconducting machines for aerospace propulsion, power generation, transportation, energy storage, electric fault protection, magnetic cloaking and active radiation shielding systems. For further information please contact Dr Harold S. Ruiz

Novel electrical machines, motors, actuators, generators and drives: High power density and high efficiency electric drives and power converters. High efficiency electrical energy storage systems: Batteries and super-capacitors, intelligent cell monitoring, energy and power management, energy scavenging techniques, e.g. thermo-electric generators. For further information please contact Dr Paul Lefley -

High voltage engineering: Electrical insulation materials for applications in HVDC and HVAC power systems, including power cables, transformers etc. Environmental conditions and their effect on the electrical properties of polymeric and oil/paper insulation materials. Accumulation of space charge and electrical ageing and degradation phenomena in polymeric materials. For further information please contact Dr Stephen Dodd -

This expertise is used to support the Space and ground based projects the University is involved in.

For general enquires with relation to Space Electronics please contact:

Dr Paul Drumm, SRC Senior Project Manager or Duncan Ross

Calibration and testing

The University has a large number of analytical facilities including SEM, TEM and other systems. Within the SRC there are cleanrooms, a bakeout facility, a small thermal vacuum facility, and laboratories and within Physics and Astronomy a long beam line X-ray test facility. A hydrogen peroxide plasma steriliser sited in a cleanroom is available along with metrology measurement capability.

For further information please contact:

Dr Paul Drumm, SRC Senior Project Manager Mark Sims or Jon Sykes, SRC Lead Mechanical Engineer

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