DeltaV – Making Space Transportation Routine

Our product is a 3D printed propulsion solution for medium size satellites, utilising non-toxic propellants to cut down the cost and complexity of current products.

Francesca Van Marion
TU Delft
Aerospace Engineering and Management of Technology

Over het initiatief / About the initiative

DeltaV – Making Space Transportation Routine

In welke fase zit jouw initiatief? / In what stage is your initiative?

Uitgewerkt conceptfase

Heb je jouw initiatief al gevalideerd? / Did you validate your initiative?

We are in the process of validating our initiative through many customer and industry expert interviews. We are also testing our technology (IP) in our engine in the coming months, which will give us more information on the performance and efficiency of our solution.

Meer informatie over jouw initiatief / More info about your initiative

Consumer demand for a variety of services, from increased internet access to better logistic solutions, has been quietly driving an explosion in space-based activity. The recent commercialization of space access has only accelerated the growth of this market. The entire industry is currently undergoing a shift from the highly specialized government contract work that was born during the space race, to a market model that more closely resembles other commercial markets such as aviation. With this change, there are several open problems to solve that can provide significant value to the industry. We at DeltaV are looking to solve the problem of in-space propulsion.

When a satellite is launched, it is placed at the very edge of space. It needs onboard propulsion to get to and maintain its final orbit. It also needs to de-orbit itself at the end of life, according to UN guidelines. For decades now, satellite propulsion has been stuck iterating on designs that date back to the ’60s. These propulsion systems were created as custom one-offs and run on highly toxic propellants such as hydrazine. The cost of operating these systems is a major pain point for satellite operators. As an example, it took a team of highly trained specialists working in protective suits 10 days to fuel the James Webb Space Telescope’s hydrazine propulsion system. This operation alone can cost between five hundred thousand and a million euros, accounting for half the cost of the propulsion system.

To overcome this and other challenges, we are designing a new green, non-toxic propulsion system. This system will be fillable from the factory and safely transportable, eliminating the costly filling operation. This will be a complete propulsion solution for our customers, including the fuel tanks and supporting systems needed for our engine. Working closely with satellite integrators (the direct purchasers of our product), we will offer a compelling value proposition to satellite operators by reducing the upfront cost of getting their experiment or commercial service to their desired orbit. We estimate that the size of our beachhead market is roughly 500 million USD, while the market size of the entire propulsion segment is 2.1 billion USD.

Our team consists of seven skilled TU Delft engineers. With diverse backgrounds and extensive experience in prior rocketry projects, our team has the right set of skills to deliver on such a technical project. We are currently in the process of patenting novel IP that gives us a significant performance advantage over our competitors.

Our goal is to make transportation in space mundane, enabling the next generation of space services to grow.

Wat zijn jouw volgende stappen om het verder te ontwikkelen? / What are your next steps to develop the initiative?

– Further validation of the IP during ground testing
– Further validation of the idea with potential customers and industry experts
– Iterations on design and business model based on validation results
– Launch a rocket with the prototype propulsion module and prove our credibility in building space technology
– Design the first product for the satellite market according to customer specifications
– Performing certification tests
– Flying the engine module in space on a vehicle as a pilot programme (in-space validation is essential for the space market)

Wat heb je nodig om (nog meer) impact te maken met dit initiatief? / What do you need to make (more) impact with this initiative?

– Resources to build and test our initiative such as funding
– Expand our network in the space industry as well as the network of customers to validate the business idea faster and more efficiently