Minor Spaceflight

The Spaceflight Minor exposes you to the fundamentals of spaceflight, dives into its applications and provides insight in and experience with its technologies. It is organized by the Faculties of Aerospace Engineering (AE), Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) and Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science (EEMCS).

JUICE Mission (© ESA)

Why follow this minor?

Spaceflight is an inspiring multidisciplinary domain that combines research, technology and engineering applications and pushes them to the highest levels. Learn how to:

  • Visit other planets and capture a glimpse of distant galaxies.
  • Observe Earth to understand our own planet, its climate and global human activities.
  • Enable commercial and societal space applications such as global communication, navigation, safety and security.

And all of that in the extremely challenging environment of space: tough vibrations during launch, vacuum, high levels of radiation, large temperature differences, no wall plug and no means to perform maintenance or repair. In the 21st century, the number of parties involved in spaceflight is increasing. New applications are emerging thanks to the rapid advancement of terrestrial technology. Young and capable space engineers will be increasingly in demand by industry and agencies in the future. TU Delft is an excellent place to launch your career in spaceflight.


Who is this minor for?

This minor is intended for 3rd year BSc. students interested in the broad field of Spaceflight coming from TU Delft, University of Leiden or via the Erasmus Program (registered at faculty of AE). The focus and treatment of topics differs from the Aerospace bachelor and Space Engineering master program, and so adds value for both Aerospace and non-Aerospace students. The multidisciplinary content and wide range of didactic approaches will challenge, motivate and inspire students from widely different backgrounds. You should have followed the first two years of your BSc program and in particular have completed courses on mathematics and physics. Interested students can perform an online test in which they can assess whether they meet the required level of understanding of physics and mathematics. This test provides a non-binding advice. The entry level test can be found on the following page.

The Program

The minor consists of four parts: introduction, missions, technology and development.

Introduction to Spaceflight will provide the basics of Spaceflight to non-Aerospace students. The AE students will follow the course on electronic circuits instead.

Within the Missions part, Earth observation and space exploration missions are elaborated from both the developer and user perspective. Exciting examples of current and future missions will be provided and used to guide students through all topics. The intricate relation between orbits and the spaceflight applications will be explained. Technology will be discussed, with a focus on instrumentation and requirements to the spacecraft. 

Within the Technology part, the focus is on the engineering and operations of key technologies which facilitate space missions.  These are satellite bus platforms, propulsion (including rockets) and the ground segment. Real-world examples are provided and students will perform a concurrent engineering workshop of a CubeSat. There is also  a practical involving communication hardware and  a practical where students receive signals from real satellites using the TU Delft ground station.

In the Development part, students work individually, or with a small group of students, on a well-defined assignment to develop a concrete spaceflight product from concept to realization and critically reflect on the process and results. Students may indicate preferences among available assignments defined by topic experts (a tutor affiliated with the content of one or more of the courses).