Delfi-PQ Mission

Delfi-PQ stands for Delfi PocketQube.

Why a PocketQube?

Delft University of Technology has entered the class of picosatellites to re-focus on space technology miniaturization. PocketQubes are an order of magnitude smaller than the well known CubeSat standard which formed the basis of previous Delfi satellite projects. Although a fixed international standard for the outer dimensions is lacking for PocketQubes, the building blocks are cubes of approximately 5 cm wide, so 8 times less volume compared to CubeSats. Where CubeSats have grown the past decade to a serious business with mature capabilities, PocketQubes and/or picosatellites are still in its infancy. Like in the early days of CubeSats, many people at this moment regard PocketQubes as merely educational toys rather than promising platforms. At TU Delft we however want to demonstrate that this is a misconception. The small size of PocketQubes will force us to think differently about space technology and the development thereof. This can create interesting spin-outs and spin-offs to larger spacecraft. A PocketQube sized spacecraft bus or part thereof might also be implemented in for instance a CubeSat, leaving more space for payloads. But also on itself, PocketQubes (or even further miniaturized spacecraft) may have its value-to-cost advantages, especially when deployed in vast networks which go beyond the scope and scale of the current CubeSats networks currently on development. In short, TU Delft wants to be pioneers in a relatively under-explored class of satellites and a point of reference to everyone interested in this field.

The Mission

Previous Delfi missions had clear objectives for education, technology demonstration and innovation of the CubeSat bus platform. The projects followed a classical phased development approach (phase A-E). Delfi-PQ will be setup entirely different. It consists of a core platform which secures basic functionalities which will iteratively evolve over time. Advanced subsystems, suchs as for instance attitude determination and control, as well as payloads will be developed as seperate projects using a standard interface specification. Only when they are ready in hard- and software, and can be succesfully integrated and tested, they become a formalized part of the next satellite, either as a technology demonstration payload or as extended capability of the core platform. . Once the first complete hardware baseline exists in our clean room (expected in 2017), there will always be a launch-worthy satellite in our clean room. Development iterations will take place about every half year. When there are sufficient technologies/payloads succesfully integrated, Delfi-PQ will be launched (expected in 2018). After the first launch, development iterations will immediatly continue and the frequency of launches is expected to increase. 

Delfi-PQ is a picosatellite demonstrating a reliable core bus platform and at least one advanced subsystem or payload.

The mission statement above is rather general as result of the new development approach. While it contains a lot of freedom, reliability and the implementation of advanced subsystems and/or payloads are key to the succes of the mission and will play an important role in the development of the satellite. Development of the core platform (consisting of EPS, OBC, structure, radio and thermal control) and the ground segment has started in January 2016. TU Delft will start developing a PocketQube sized propulsion system as well as an attitude determination and control subsystem soon, so one or both of these are likely technology demonstration candidates for the first Delfi-PQ.

On this website, technical details and progress of both the core platform as well as the potential technology demonstration payloads will be presented. As explained above, the content may change continuously over time.