PhD Positions Advanced Space Propulsion Systems – Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) – Delft

  • Delft

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

For a recently granted EU project, TU Delft will collaborate with other high-level European universities and industrial partners for the development of a bimodal propulsion system (main orbital control propulsion + reaction control thrusters) based on shared green propellants, produced in orbit through an innovative conversion process applied to liquid water.

More specifically, the areas under the direct responsibility of TU Delft will be: the development and testing of a small solar thermal thruster (1 N class) for the reaction control part of the system; the development and testing of an innovative concept of tank for the storage of low-density gaseous propellants; the definition of concrete mission scenarios in which the bimodal system could be used, and their relevant requirements.

Two PhD positions are available at TU Delft to work on this project under the supervision of Dr. Angelo Cervone, with mandatory (non-negotiable) start date in October 2024.

  • The first PhD will be mainly in charge of systems engineering activities, including definition and analysis of concrete mission scenarios and derivation of the afferent propulsion system requirements.
  • The second PhD will be in charge of the design, manufacturing and testing of the thruster and the innovative tank concept.
  • The two PhD will collaborate with each other in defining the test plan and in processing and discussing the test results.
  • Some level of collaboration is also expected with the researchers in charge at the other institutions involved in the project, especially those working on the main orbital control propulsion and on the water conversion system.
  • As PhD candidate in the Space Propulsion Department of TU Delft, you will be part of an extremely international, diverse and inclusive team and you will have access to state-of-the-art research and education facilities. You will have the opportunity to receive support for your PhD research from MSc students, through their final thesis and projects or practicals in the framework of specific courses.


  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • Delft
  • Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • You have a MSc degree in Aerospace Engineering or a similar field related to space propulsion.
  • You have proven experience, acquired for example during your studies or MSc thesis, on the design, analysis and testing of space propulsion system and related test facilities.
  • You are proficient in written and spoken English at Academic/research level. Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the .
  • Conditions of employment

    Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

    Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

    Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

    The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

    For international applicants, TU Delft has the . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


    Delft University of Technology

    Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

    At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core and we actively to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

    Challenge. Change. Impact!


    Faculty Aerospace Engineering

    The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. More than 200 science staff, around 270 PhD candidates and close to 3000 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important. Our focal subjects: sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems. Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governments and industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond.

    Click to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.

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