TU Delft Space Institute


Spaceflight serves scientific, economic and societal needs. The TU Delft Space Institute contributes to the space sector with ground-breaking research. And since the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the institute demonstrates new techniques on missions in space. “Miniaturization is reshaping spaceflight”, says Eberhard Gill, director of TU Delft Space Institute. “By doing innovative interdisciplinary research our institute contributes to renewing spaceflight.” Sensing from Space, Distributed Space Systems and Space Robotics are the three focal themes of TU Delft Space Institute.

Sensing from Space
Sensing from Space is focused on improving remote sensing capabilities, the bedrock of many missions to space. Innovative sensor systems are crucial for observing the universe and monitoring our own planet. Read more

Distributed Space Systems
Sensing from Space intersects with the second theme, Distributed Space Systems, where multicomponent systems can form virtual instruments spread over several satellites. Navigation of constellations, and even swarms, is a challenging research area. TU Delft has all the necessary in-house expertise to do innovative research in this field. Read more

Space Robotics
Nowadays, the performance of small satellites is often severely limited by the lack of a propulsion system. The development of miniaturized propulsion systems is an important research topic within Space Robotics. Other topics are orbital servicing and space debris handling, as well as testing commercial devices under space condition. Read more

Privilege
The TU Delft Space Institute is an open institute. The scientists collaborate with partners both from within and outside university. The research institute was founded in 2015. It is part of Delft University of Technology. Director Eberhard Gill: “It is a privilege to bundle the creative energy of all those great scientists, who do space research at TU Delft.” Read more

The mission of the TU Delft Space Institute is to bundle and create expertise on Space for local, regional and global impact on research, education and valorization. Our vision is to contribute to ground-breaking solutions to the Space sector to serve scientific, economic and societal needs.

Objectives

The TU Delft Space Institute shall:
1. stimulate and jointly develop and conduct ground-breaking research on Space,
2. jointly demonstrate innovative systems in Space and realize valorization opportunities with Space and non-Space partners, and
3. increase the visibility and impact of Space expertise and activities at Delft University of Technology as a whole
4. stimulate and further develop education on Space.

The TU Delft Space Institute wants to be an open institute in facilitating internally and externally spin-in and spin-out with domains other than Space.

Structure

The TU Delft institute is headed by the Institute board (see below) which is composed of the six theme leaders and the director. The Institute Board comprises the theme leaders and representatives from the five faculties and will meet quarterly to discuss and decide on operational and strategic topics. The director reports to the Steering Board which is composed by the deans of the five faculties and a member of the TU Delft Executive Board. The director and institute board are supported by the institute secretary and advised by the Advisory board.

Institute Board

Prof. Dr. Eberhard Gill

Director

Dr. Jian Rong Gao

Sensing from Space

Dr. Jian Guo

Distributed Space Systems

Dr. André Schiele

Space Robotics

Mariëlle Hoefakker

Institute secretary

Dr. Paco Lopez Dekker

Sensing from Space

Dr. Tamas Keviczky

Distributed Space Systems

Dr. Chris Verhoeven

Space Robotics

News & Events

05.05.15
News: PhD Board

Moon rover Lunar Zebro

Until 1950s, the Moon was just a natural satellite of the Earth and a mission to the Moon was only a thing of fiction. Less than a decade later, the first manned spacecraft landed on the Moon. Since then, the Moon has been a popular target for scientists and immense interest has been shown by the public. Yet, there is still much to explore on our nearest planetary neighbour.

The main goal of the Lunar Zebro, is to bring the first student-built rover to the Moon and to demonstrate a new kind of locomotion which is thought to be better at traversing on rough lunar terrain than traditional wheels used in previous missions. The rover travels on the lunar surface using 6 C-shaped legs while autonomously detecting obstacles and navigating through the terrain by communicating with the ground station directly. If these tasks are performed successfully, the rover’s adaptability and capability on a rough terrain in space environment can be further improved for other planetary destinations.

Apart from sending the smallest and lightest rover to the Moon, the uniqueness of the Lunar Zebro mission also comes from the fact that students of TU Delft play an important role in the development and operation of the rover and mission respectively.

Towards its launch in 2022, there is still much to be prepared.  Currently, the student team is working on designing and manufacturing a qualification model of the rover. This model is being made as an intermediate phase to flight model and engineering model, which will be used to qualify various new components and measure their performance under space conditions. If everything goes according to plan, future missions will consist of multiple Lunar Zebro rovers, which exhibits the possibility of implementing swarming technology for exploration and commercial purposes. The technology would not only be useful in space, but also right here on Earth in scenarios like search for trapped people after a natural disaster or deploy sensors in remote locations to collect data for more accurate predictions and ground truth.

In recent months, the project has been to various events and conferences around the world to showcase its progress and have an open debate about its objectives and long-term goals. International Aeronautics Congress (IAC), in Washington DC was the most recent event and biggest conference the project has visited. Lunar Zebro got an incredible amount of positive response from experts in the space sector and technical advice from companies like Lockheed Martin, Ispace inc. and TNO. There was also the rare opportunity to explain the project to the Dutch astronaut, André Kuipers and to have  his take on this home-grown project. On behalf of Lunar Zebro and its parent roadmap (OLFAR) a few technical papers were also presented at the IAC including a paper on the thermal analysis of the rover by Jesús Muñoz and Maneesh Verma. Jesús was nominated as a finalist for the Luigi G. Napolitano award (grant given to young space professionals who have contributed the most to the space industry and lead authors of a IAC 2019 scientific paper).

TU Delft Space Institute (DSI) has been part of Lunar Zebro since the beginning of the project. DSI along with the TU Delft Robotics Institute are the founding partners and play a major role in the project’s day to day activities and its long term plan to send a swarm of rovers in the near future. One of the most important contribution of DSI to the project has been the availability of experienced staff members as part of the team. Critical sub-systems like communications and a power distribution unit have been developed by or under direct supervision of these experts. DSI also provides the project with the ability to test few of our sub-systems on a small scale for verification of our thermal simulations and access to its clean room for assembly. Furthermore, DSI contributes one of the payloads for the mission, a sensor, which will measure the radiation levels on the lunar surface at different locations around the landing site. Lunar Zebro and DSI’s latest Delfi-PQ mission constantly share information among its engineers with a aim to assure that both projects accomplish their missions smoothly as they have quite a lot of technical and operational aspects in common between them.

For any further inquiries, contact Lead Public Relations: publicrelations@zebro.space

Contact


TU Delft Space Institute
Kluyverweg 1
2629 HS Delft
Telephone: +31 (0)15-2781721
spaceinstitute@tudelft.nl

For general questions regarding the TU Delft Space institute please contact the institute secretary Mariëlle Hoefakker at M.E.Hoefakker@tudelft.nl. For expertise on specific space-related topics we have created a web directory on this website which you may consult for contact details of relevant experts.

External parties interested in cooperating with the TU Delft Space Institute can contact the Business Developer Anke Peters via A.Peters@tudelft.nl.

Contact information on other TU Delft employees can be found on the TU Delft website.

The TU Delft Space Institute is present at five different faculties of Delft University of Technology. Directions to the TU Delft campus and maps of the campus can be found here.