Manuel Martínez Sánchez graduated as an Aeronautical Engineer in Madrid (ETSIA) in 1967, and received his PhD degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1973. He has been since 1974 in the Faculty of the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where he is currently a Professor, as well as the Director of its Space Propulsion Laboratory.
He collaborated in the launching of the Aerospace Engineering program of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Terrassa), where he holds a part-time teaching position. Prof. Martínez' research deals with the physics and engineering of Electric Propulsion thrusters for spacecraft propulsion, with extension to other areas of plasma engineering, such as Magneto Hydrodynamics, Electrodynamic Tethers and Magnetospheric waves. Under his direction, the MIT Space Propulsion Laboratory has carried out basic research and initial development of several new electric thrusters, including plasma accelerators with innovative magnetic geometry and liquid-based Electro-spray ion micro-thrusters.
He has published about fifty journal papers, and has supervised twenty-seven doctoral theses and ninety-one master's theses. His teaching is in the general aircraft and rocket propulsion area.