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

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.


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.


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


Mariëlle Hoefakker

Institute secretary

Prof. Dr. Just Herder

Board member

Jos van den Boom

Business developer

Prof. Dr. Alle-Jan van der Veen

Board member

Prof. Dr. Sjoerd Stallinga

Board member

Prof. Dr. Herman Russchenberg

Board member

Theme Leaders

Dr. Jian Rong Gao

Sensing from Space

Dr. Jian Guo

Distributed Space Systems

Dr. Hans Goosen

Space Robotics

Dr. Tamas Keviczky

Distributed Space Systems

Dr. Chris Verhoeven

Space Robotics

News & Events

News: PhD Board

Miguel Bessa and Richard Norte of TU Delft have been awarded the Interstellar Initiatives Grant

Miguel Bessa and Richard Norte, researchers at the TU Delft at the Faculty of Mechanical,
Maritime and Materials Engineering have been awarded an Interstellar Initiatives Grant
from the Limitless Space Institute.The award is for their research ‘Origami Photonic
Crystal Sails with Machine Learning’. Their research focus is about the development
and demonstration of nanoscale origami photonic crystal membranes using
data-driven machine learning.

The Limitless Space Institute recently awarded the researchers a grant to get this origami
mirror technology off the ground for uses in space optics, communications and ultra-fast
propulsion of space probes with radiation pressure. This collaboration is centered on the
combination of Richard Norte’snanophotonics with Miguel Bessa’s expertise in machine
learning designing for origami structures. This new research route came about nearly a year
ago when Miguel and Richard received a Cohesion grant to begin their scientific collaboration.
The research is now looking into how machine learning optimization can be used to optimize
nanotechnology in a way that would be difficult to conventional, intuition-based techniques.
Richard Norte and Miguel Bessa are currently manufacturing the world’s most
lightweight mirrors that are manufactured from nanometre-thick films of glass,
which are naturally only about 30% reflective.

These mirrors are some of the thinnest and most flexible mirrors ever made because of their
thickness of only 50nm – equivalent to 1/1000th the diameter of a human hair – and an ability
to reflect 99.9% of light that reflects from it. By patterning these materials at a nanoscale,
Norte and Bessa change these films from a thin sheet of glass into a super-reflective material
not found in nature but engineered in a cleanroom.


TU Delft Space Institute
Kluyverweg 1
2629 HS Delft
Telephone: +31 (0)15-2781721

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.

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.