Daniel Erkel

PhD Candidate

Dan is a final year AeroAstro PhD student and research assistant at ESL, advised by Prof Oli de Weck. He is also a space systems engineer and space strategy expert with 10 years of experience in the field. He has worked as a lead thermal engineer on national telecom satellites as well as the lead industry expert on the space strategy for a European nation. In 2022, Dan was in the final ~40 of the European Space Agency’s astronaut selection.

Dan’s doctoral research focuses on the development of novel methods for space strategy and space policy architecting, using optimisation methods, as well as statistical analysis and forecasting. As a Kennedy Memorial Trust Summer Fellow, an MIT Center for International Studies Summer Fellow, and as a Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center Summer Fellow, Dan is currently working with three space agencies around the world on a new framework for strategy architecting. His work is also looking at flexible architectures to de-risk the development of capital-intensive space systems with long system development life-cycles.

Dan obtained a dual SM in Technology and Policy and Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, having written a thesis about effective space strategies for emerging space actors. Previously, at MIT, Dan worked on commercial space station design, machine-learning based satellite image analysis, acted as the project lead for a microgravity experiment and as the lead payload thermal engineer of a NASA-funded CubeSat. Dan also taught classes in satellite and space systems engineering as well as statistics and data science, and gave lectures on space strategy to wide audiences.

Outside MIT, Dan worked as a space strategy expert with a European government and a European investment fund. Before coming to MIT, Dan spent several years at Airbus DS UK, where among other projects, he was the lead payload thermal engineer on two national GEO satellites and worked on flagship ESA missions, such as ExoMars.

Dan also holds an MSc from Cranfield University in Astronautics and Space Engineering and a BEng in Mechanical Engineering and Business Finance from UCL and LSE as well as a BA in International Business from Corvinus University Budapest.

In his spare time, Dan is an avid cyclist, glider pilot, and devotes a lot of his time to fitness training, reading, and music. He is passionate about causes such as STEM outreach for underserved communities, homelessness, and labour relations.