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• 28 November 2019: ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, has concluded in Seville, Spain, with the endorsement of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of ESA and the whole European space sector. The meeting brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU. 1) 2)

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Figure 1: Ministers from ESA’s Member States, along with Associate Member Slovenia and Cooperating State Canada, gathered in Seville, Spain, 27-28 November 2019, to discuss future space activities for Europe and the budget of Europe’s space agency for the next three years (image credit: ESA, S. Corvaja)

The Member States were asked to approve a comprehensive set of programs to secure Europe’s independent access to and use of space in the 2020s, boost Europe’s growing space economy, and make breakthrough discoveries about Earth, our Solar System and the Universe beyond, all the while making the responsible choice to strengthen the efforts we are making to secure and protect our planet.

For the first time in 25 years, there will be a significant boost in funding for ESA’s world-class and inspirational science program, pushing the boundaries of our understanding of who we are and where we come from. It will allow the first gravitational wave detector in space, LISA, to fly alongside the black hole mission Athena and enable fundamental advances in our understanding of the basic physics of the Universe. There is also a strong reinforcement and accordingly funding for research and development and ESA’s laboratories, to underpin the missions of the future.

Figure 2: Artist's impression of the merger of two supermassive black holes during a galaxy collision. What happens when two supermassive black holes collide? Combining the observing power of two future ESA missions, Athena and LISA, would allow us to study these cosmic clashes and their mysterious aftermath for the first time. (image credit: ESA)

With worldwide partners, Europe will take its place at the heart of space exploration going farther than we have ever gone before – we continue our commitment to the International Space Station until 2030 as well as contributing vital transportation and habitation modules for the Gateway, the first space station to orbit the Moon. ESA's astronauts recruited in 2009 will continue to receive flight assignments until all of them have been to space for a second time, and we will also begin the process of recruiting a new class to continue European exploration in low Earth orbit and beyond. European astronauts will fly to the Moon for the first time. Member States have confirmed European support for a ground-breaking Mars Sample Return mission, in cooperation with NASA.

ESA will help develop the commercial benefits of space for innovators and governments across the Member States, boosting competitiveness in the NewSpace environment. We will develop the first fully flexible satellite systems to be integrated with 5G networks, as well as next-generation optical technology for a fibre-like ‘network in the sky’, marking a transformation in the satellite communication industry. Satellite communications will join forces with navigation to begin satnav for the Moon, while closer to home commercial companies can access funding for new applications of navigation technologies through the NAVISP program. ESA Ministers have secured a smooth transition to the next generation of launchers: Ariane 6 and Vega-C, and have given the green light to Space Rider, ESA’s new reusable spaceship.

Our Member States have committed to the responsible use of our environment both on and off our planet. ESA’s world-leading position in Earth observation will be strengthened with the arrival of 11 new missions, in particular addressing topics linked to climate change, Arctic and Africa.

There was also a significant development with the adoption of Space Safety as a new basic pillar of ESA’s activities. This will lead to new projects in the areas of keeping the space environment operational – through the removal of dangerous debris and plans for automation of space traffic control – and early warnings and mitigation of damage to Earth from hazards from space such as asteroids and solar flares. The Hera mission marks a joint collaboration with NASA to test asteroid deflection capabilities. New investments in the field of cyber-resilience and cyber-training have also been confirmed.

Figure 3: This taken from the new Hera mission trailer featuring rock star Brian May (image credit: ESA, Science Office)

The coming years will also see ESA reinforce its relationship with the European Union and increase its own organizational agility, effectiveness and efficiency.

“Bringing together our Member States, 22 governments that change regularly, and agreeing on such inspirational projects to share a joint future in space might seem an impossible task on paper. But in two days in Seville, we have proved it is possible,” said ESA Director General Jan Wörner. “It is possible because we work together to develop good programs, and it is possible because people are dedicated, and invest all their effort in a long and thorough decision process involving the scientific community, industry and national delegations.

“Together we have put in place a structure that sees inspiration, competitiveness and responsibility underpin our actions for the coming years, with ESA and Europe going beyond our previous achievements with challenging new missions and targets for growth along with the wider industry.”

Co-chairing the meeting, Manuel Heitor, Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education declared: “Today at Space19+ in Seville, together with my colleagues Ministers from ESA Member States, we secured a further step to foster Europe’s competitive position in the global space arena. We approved an ambitious portfolio of space programs, and addressed the challenges linked to the sector. We therefore invited all ESA Member States to seriously engage in taking stock of space activities in a continuous way and strengthen the role of ESA in Europe in close articulation with EC. In addition, we invited ESA Member States to work with ESA to take the necessary steps towards modernizing ESA's industrial policy and guarantee the agency evolves in a way to match a constantly changing environment, changing markets and a fast rate of digital transformation of our societies.”

Also co-chair of the meeting, French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Frédérique Vidal said: “Space19+ has demonstrated the value of space as a critical infrastructure and enabler for our daily lives. Thanks to the European excellence in space, we are able to mutually tackle human and global challenges such as climate change, space safety and security. In subscribing to the programs, Member States have made a great step towards inspiring society and renewing our ambition to address those challenges. The high level of subscriptions that was decided at the Sevilla ministerial conference will permit to strengthen the European excellence in space and will also commit us towards European citizens.”

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Figure 4: Official group photo Space19+. Ministers from ESA’s Member States, along with Associate Member Slovenia and Cooperating State Canada, gathered in Seville, Spain, 27-28 November 2019, to discuss future space activities for Europe and the budget of Europe’s space agency for the next three years (image credit: ESA, S. Corvaja)

About the European Space Agency

ESA is an intergovernmental organization, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of which 20 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programs under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programs and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programs.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

02 December 2019: In a world where change is the only constant, leadership is more important than ever. European ministers have strongly endorsed ESA to take this lead, increase its organizational agility, effectiveness and efficiency, and reinforce its relationship with the European Union.

“We have looked at the future of our activities solely from the point of view of benefits we can bring to society, industry, governments and all Europe’s people,” says ESA Director General Jan Wörner. “We tried to explain these benefits to European citizens, scientists, company leaders, the politicians and our international partners. With the support of our member States we created the Space19+ proposal, which was not only looking nice on big screens. European Ministers funded everything proposed with 14.4 billion Euro, the highest subscription in the history of ESA. This is a full success, a collective success!”.

Inspiration, competitiveness and responsibility

Modern societies heavily depend on services enabled by space technology. Without being aware we permanently use satellite-based navigation devices to find our way, rely on satellites to check the weather forecast, watch television brought to us by satellites and try to understand the consequences of climate change – collecting data via satellites.

European citizens expect ESA to make their lives better – reaping the benefits of space technology in day-to-day activities. This is a challenging responsibility. To fulfil it, ESA needs to excel in the global competition with inspiring space programs in all domains of space.

Inspiration

“At Space19+, ministers decided on a boost of space science in Europe for the first time after 25 years,” says Prof. Günther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science. “This enables Europe to embark on some of the biggest upcoming scientific opportunities. Observing supermassive black holes mergers, analyzing at the same time the light as well as the gravitational waves, will tell us how these gargantuan monsters alter time and space. This is absolutely essential to understand how our Universe works.”

The 10% increase for Science allows also for more small but fast-developed missions in close cooperation with ESA Member States like Cheops and Comet Interceptor.

“The holy grail in astronomy today is to find a second Earth,” says Prof. Hasinger. “Everybody is intrigued by the question whether there is life out there. I am very much looking forward to the launch of our first exoplanet mission Cheops, on 17 December this year. It is the first mission in a series of three dedicated to the search for life elsewhere than Earth.”

European astronauts enjoy a huge popularity in their home countries and beyond. Their missions to the International Space Station capture the imagination of citizens and inspire the younger generations in Europe.

“Humankind has been living and working permanently in space on the International Space Station for nearly two decades,” says David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration.

“Now it is time to expand our presence to the Moon and one day Mars. The one-third growth in Europe’s space exploration program will make our dreams a reality. While we fully explore the Moon and its resources in preparation for going further, we will also bring pristine samples back from Mars to understand why the Red Planet is hostile to life today although long ago it was similar to our Earth.”

With the funding provided at Space19+, ESA will be able to issue a call for a new generation of European astronauts, send them to the International Space Station and also to the Moon aboard the Orion spacecraft. ESA will strengthen its partnership with NASA by contributing vital transportation, technology and habitation for the Gateway, the first lunar spaceport. As part of the most ambitious robotic exploration program ever attempted, ESA will build the first spacecraft to return pristine samples from the surface of Mars, transforming our knowledge of the Red Planet.

Competitiveness

Autonomous access to space is of strategic political importance for Europe to realize its own ambitions. The entry into service of Europe's new family of launch vehicles, Ariane 6 and Vega-C and the investment in the future of space transportation will reinforce Europe's independent access to space, transport in and return from space for both commercial customers and critical government users.

“The demand for space transportation services is growing fast while competition is fiercer than ever,” says Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation. “Europe is ready to play a strong role in all segments from heavy to small launchers and even in support to commercial micro launchers. Space Rider, ESA’s small shuttle for fast turnaround such as science experiments in microgravity, complements our portfolio. It’s time to embrace the private sector and we are ready for it. Space19+ demonstrates Europe’s determination to maintain its 40-year legacy of autonomous access to space.”

The cooperation between the EU and ESA in Galileo and EGNOS is a success with more than a Billion users for one of the most, if not the most accurate system in the world. It provides European companies and citizens with independent access to satellite positioning, navigation and timing services crucial to day-to-day life.

“Europe’s space ministers have given a clear vote of confidence to the Navigation and Innovation Support Program, by subscribing to its next phase with a significantly enhanced yearly budget,” says Paul Verhoef, ESA Director of Navigation.

“The program looks to the future of ‘positioning, navigation and timing’ by supporting commercial R&D projects, efforts to sharpen European competitiveness and long-term R&D including navigation beyond Earth. Its flexible, agile nature makes it a very suitable partner for ESA Member States and companies, including small-medium enterprises and the New Space ecosystem.”

Fast-paced digitalization and miniaturization have disrupted the telecommunication market forcing everyone to change.

“European ministers responsible for space have increased our budget by 35%,” says Magali Vaissière, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, “Allowing us to implement all three strategic lines of our ARTES 4.0 program.”

“In partnership with the satellite communication industry, we will drive Europe’s competitiveness in the global market in particular by developing the first fully flexible satellite systems to be integrated with 5G networks, space systems for safety and security including SAGA as part of the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure as well as the next-generation optical technology for a fibre-like ‘network in the sky’.”

The past success of Europe in space depends fully on the competitiveness of its industry and of the cutting-edge basic R&D and world-class facilities of ESA. All domains of space technology, including innovative propulsion, digital design and new production methods, first flight of specialized microprocessors dedicated to artificial intelligence tasks and cyber-resilience both in terms of enabling technologies for a wide range of applications and resilience of space systems will benefit from the increase of funding at Space19+.

“Member States have recognized the key role of investment in basic technology research and the associated laboratories,” says Franco Ongaro, ESA Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

“Once the technology is mature the private sector is ready to use it. Europe’s ministers responsible for space understand that better than anybody else. They have substantially upgraded the funding for developing ideas, by increasing the basic activities by 10%, and by strongly supporting the generic support technology program; converting ideas into working prototypes and for readying leading-edge technology for spaceflight and open markets. I am very grateful for this strong endorsement of R&D programs at ESA. Now our challenge is to keep our technology target promise: to increase innovation sustainability and efficiency’ and to reduce the development time of our systems.”

"Substantial funds will be devoted to the mission operations infrastructure over the next three years," adds Rolf Densing, ESA Director of Operations.

"This infrastructure is essential for mission success. We will deliver advanced new capabilities as well as increased efficiency, notably a 'multi-mission operations infrastructure as a service', the deployment of new software to control satellites, dubbed 'European Ground Systems Common Core' and a new deep space antenna. Major investments have also been decided to make ESA a fully cyber-resilient agency. These efforts will all boost European industrial competitiveness on the global market."

“Now, we need to quickly transform this fantastic success into jobs and economic growth in all ESA Member States” said Eric Morel de Westgaver, ESA Director for Industry, Procurement and Legal Services. “Ministers have clearly recognized the industrial policy as a key challenge for the future of ESA. We will therefore work to further increase responsiveness and flexibility to adapt to all industrial actors, in particular SME who have a key role to play in this new space eco-system.”

Responsibility

Reflecting one of the major concerns of European citizens, European ministers responsible for space have made the greatest funding increase in Earth Observation. This will allow for a suite of eleven Earth Observation satellites to monitor climate change and the global carbon cycle to meet the Green Deal goal of a carbon-free Europe by 2050.

“Europe further enhances its role as global leader in Earth observation with clear targets to play an active role in supporting solutions to global issues related to Climate, Arctic and Africa,” says Josef Aschbacher, ESA Director of Earth Observation.

“The Copernicus space component program, co-funded with the EU, has received a record over-subscription of nearly one third, to develop six new Sentinel missions and the related ground segment. This is a clear endorsement for the continuation of a successful EU-ESA cooperation in space.”

“We will also initiate the Digital Twin Earth project combining high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and cloud-based processing to push the frontier of science and technology to better understand and model the Earth system with the most advanced technologies” adds Aschbacher.

The sky has so far not been falling on our heads – However, dinosaurs did not have a space agency, which explains why European Ministers established now firmly Space Safety as a new program.

“Compared to its precursor, Space Situational Awareness, Space Safety is more than four times bigger in volume” says Rolf Densing, ESA Director of Operations.

“We will be able to build three new missions: Lagrange, the first satellite to warn us of extreme space weather from an orbit simultaneously viewing both the Sun and Earth, Hera to demonstrate for the first time Asteroid deflection together with NASA and ADRIOS to demonstrate for the first time active debris removal.”

United space in Europe

Recognizing ESA's vital role in guaranteeing Europe's place in space, Ministers have expressed their full support to the Director giving him a clear mandate to reinforce both ESA's relationship with the European Union and to increase its own organizational agility, effectiveness and efficiency.

“Taken by the European ministers at Space19+ in Seville, these far-sighted decisions allow ESA to look with confidence and fresh commitment towards the opportunities of the next decade and beyond. I am proud to be the Director General of a stronger European Space Agency, leading a united space in Europe, cooperating where possible and competing where necessary, but uniting Europe in and through space” says Jan Wörner.

Table 1: Reflections on ESA’s Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, Space19+ 3)




• 27 November 2019: A Memorandum of Cooperation to further commit to strengthening cooperation in the field of space resources and innovation was signed by Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider and ESA Director General ESA Jan Wörner. 4)

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Figure 5: A Memorandum of Cooperation to further commit to strengthening cooperation in the field of space resources and innovation was signed on 27 November in Seville, Spain, by Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider and ESA Director General ESA Jan Wörner (image credit: ESA, P. Sebirot)

- Following the establishment of the SpaceResources.lu initiative in 2016 to promote and develop the research, economic and legal aspects of space resources, ESA and the Luxembourg Space Agency have been working together to explore opportunities for cooperation and have identified common objectives for research and development.

- The Luxembourg Space Agency is establishing ESRIC (European Space Resources Innovation Center), to create additional opportunities for European and international innovation. Its initial focus is on space resource extraction, processing and manufacturing to advance sustainable space exploration.

- The Memorandum signed at ESA’s Ministerial Council Space19+ in Seville, Spain, sees ESA join the Space Resources Innovation Center as a strategic partner, broadening the scope of the activities started under the spaceresources.lu initiative and giving it a more European character.

A common goal

- The cost of launching people and materials into space and the lack of an established, affordable means of resupplying essentials such as fuel and life support is currently a major barrier to sustainable space exploration.

- Overcoming these challenges, by developing technology that turns resources found in space into oxygen and water, fuel or building materials will open up new opportunities for Europe’s exploration of the Solar System, and provide new business opportunities, as well as benefits for communities on Earth.

- ESA is focused on in situ resource utilization to support sustainable exploration of our Solar System. As we look to take our next steps to the Moon and Mars, ESA sees in situ resource utilization as an enabling capability for sustaining human operations.

- The agency has already made significant progress in this area by developing the ESA Strategy for Space Resources that implements a number of ground-based research, technology and mission definition activities, using in situ resources for sustainable space exploration.

- Together with ESA, the Luxembourg Space Agency will set up the facilities that will allow ground-based research on space resources for both public and private researchers from all over Europe, establishing the key European center for space resources utilization.

- The scope of the cooperation will include research, business support and incubation, knowledge management and competence concentration and community management.




• 16 April 2019: The Contribution Agreement between ESA and the EU on space technology activities was signed today by ESA Director General Jan Wörner and the European Commission’s Deputy Director-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Pierre Delsaux. 5)

The objective of the EU’s In Orbit Demonstration/Validation (IOD/IOV) activities pursued through this agreement, in the frame of the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, is to set the grounds for a potential future provision of a regular IOD/IOV service for new technologies in Europe, based on European solutions for spacecraft, ground segment and launch services.

The choice of the European Commission to delegate ESA with the full implementation of the EU Horizon 2020 IOD/IOV actions acknowledges ESA’s leading expertise in managing such programs and mitigating risks, based on its long-standing experience in managing its own IOD/IOV programs.

Through the agreement, the EU also contributes to ESA’s Light Satellites, Low cost, Launch opportunities (LLL) initiative, specifically for the Proof of Concept demonstration flights for the Vega Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) and Ariane 6 Microsat Launch Share (MLS).

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Figure 6: ESA and EU sign Contribution Agreement on Horizon 2020 space activities (image credit: ESA/European Commission)




• 14 December 2018: The ESA Council held its 277th meeting at the ESOC (European Space Operations Center) in Darmstadt on 12 and 13 December 2018. 6)

The Council welcomed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who presented NASA’s vision for future space exploration. Mr Bridenstine praised the long-standing cooperation between ESA and NASA over the past 40 years through more than 260 major agreements including the iconic Hubble Space Telescope.

He strongly advocated international cooperation with ESA regarding space science, Earth science, the extension of the International Space Station operations and recognized the leading role of ESA on space safety and protection of space assets.

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Figure 7: The ESA Council 2018 in Darmstadt, Germany, welcomed NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine as guest, here seen at right of ESA Director General Jan Wörner. Also to the right are, Jean Yves Le Gall, Chair of ESA Council, and Elena Grifoni-Winters, Council Secretary and Head of ESA Director General's Cabinet (image credit: ESA)

Looking at the future of exploration, Mr Bridenstine invited ESA to build from the International Space Station towards the Lunar Gateway as a sustainable and reusable outpost around the Moon. He congratulated ESA for delivering in November the first European Service Module as a critical element of the Orion missions and set the horizon for future missions to Mars, including the prospect of a joint cooperation with ESA on Mars Sample Return.

Discussions with the Member States were held in view of the conclusion of the industrial contract to be signed for the production of the first batch of Ariane 6 launchers to be launched after its maiden flight in 2020. ESA proposed a way forward to stabilize the transition until full operational capability of Ariane 6

After almost 40 years of outstanding collaboration with Canada, which will be celebrated next year, the ESA Council unanimously approved the renewal of the cooperation agreement between ESA and the Government of Canada for a period of 10 years.

Finally, the Council unanimously approved the proposal of the Director General concerning the renewal of its Director team of teams covering the four pillars of the agency, namely ‘Applications’, 'Safety and Security', ‘Science and Exploration’, ‘Enabling and Support’ as well as ‘Administration and Industrial Policy’.




• 17 August 2017: ESOC – the European Space Operations Center, in Darmstadt, Germany – has served as Europe’s ‘gateway to space’ for half a century. In 2017, ESOC is celebrating its 50th anniversary, highlighting a rich history of achievement in space. 7)

The articles stated provide a brief overview of ESOC's rich history, which encompasses 77 spacecraft, ranging from communication, weather, Earth observation and climate monitoring satellites to spacecraft studying the Sun or peering deep into our Universe. Exploring our solar system, ESOC has flown missions to the Moon, Mars and Venus, as well as three epoch-making triumphs: Giotto’s flyby of Halley’s Comet in 1986, the Huygens landing on Titan in 2005 and Rosetta’s delivery of Philae to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in 2014 – humanity’s first-ever landing on a comet.

This special report takes a look at the center’s beginnings in 1967, the pioneering spirit of the early decades, the steady growth of mission operations expertise in Darmstadt, developments at the center and milestones in European space flight, ESOC’s evolving economic importance and the present challenges and future opportunities.




• 02 December 2016: ESA today concluded a two-day Council meeting at ministerial level in Lucerne, Switzerland. Ministers in charge for space matters from ESA’s 22 member states plus Slovenia and Canada allocated €10.3 billion for space activities and programs based on the vision of a United Space in Europe in the era of Space 4.0. 8)

The high level of subscriptions demonstrates once more that ESA’s Member States consider space as a strategic and attractive investment with a particularly high socio-economic value.

It also underlines that ESA is THE European Space Agency capable of channeling their investment to respond effectively to regional, national and European needs by covering all elements of space: science, human spaceflight, exploration, launchers, telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, applications (combining space, airborne and terrestrial technology), operations and technologies; as well as responding to the needs and challenges of Europe and the Member States by bringing together all stakeholders.

Ministers confirmed the confidence that ESA can conceptualize, shape and organize the change in the European space sector and in ESA itself. While also acting as a global player, broker and mediator at the center of international cooperation in space activities, in areas ranging from the far away in exploration (with the concept of a Moon Village for instance) to supporting closer to home the international global climate research effort following the Paris Agreement of 2015.

At this summit, Ministers in charge of space matters have declared support for ESA’s Director General’s vision for Europe in space and the role and development of ESA: now the Space 4.0i era can start with ESA committing to inform, innovate, interact and inspire. And, building on commercialization, participation, digitalization, jobs and growth, the concept of “United Space in Europe” will soon become a reality.

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Figure 8: ESA Council meeting at Ministerial Level, in Lucerne, on 1 December 2016. Ministers in charge of space activities from the 22 ESA Member States, plus Slovenia and Canada met to decide on future space activities for Europe (image credit: ESA, Stephane Corvaja)




• 18 June 2015: ESA’s business incubators hit a milestone this month: they have now fostered 300 start-up companies – and more are joining all the time. 9)

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Figure 9: Portuguese Minister of Education and Science Nuno Crato and ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management Franco Ongaro at the fifth Portuguese Space Forum, where the ESA Business Incubation Center Portugal was opened, 5 November 2014 (image credit: TV Ciência) 10)

Thanks to innovations from the many Business Incubation Centers (BICs) start-ups, leading-edge applications that spring from space are spreading throughout Europe.

“Technologies from Europe’s space programs have turned out to be great problem-solvers here on Earth,” notes Franco Ongaro, ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management.

“They are now used in the most diverse applications, from healthcare to transport, from sport to entertainment, from managing Earth’s resources to helping the environment – and many more areas of our daily lives.

“These transfers of space technology result in new companies and jobs improving regional economies and helping to secure Europe’s global competitiveness.

“We have now boosted this spin-off effect by supporting more than 300 new companies, and each year we nurture another 100 via our Technology Transfer Program and incubation centers.”

These start-ups and their entrepreneurs offer smarter and better solutions to problems. For example, safety for lorry drivers at mines in Chile and Botswana has been improved by a Dutch start-up inspired by astronaut monitoring. The carbon emission and fuel consumption of heating systems have been cut by a UK company thanks to advanced coatings on satellite microthrusters.

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Figure 10: The EstrellaSat driver fatigue system is now monitoring 30 drivers operating 10 trucks at a high-altitude mine in Peru. The same system is being installed in a mine in Botswana. EstrellaSat, now Wombatt, was supported during start-up by ESA’s Business Incubation Center in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. The system incorporates spin-offs from several space technologies to lowerworkplace incidents caused by fatigue of haulage truck and other large machinery operators in open pit mines (image credit: Stracon GyM S.A.C.)

ESA incubators in eight countries

Many such new offerings are put to the market every year by entrepreneurs hosted by incubators in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the UK, France, Spain and Portugal.

“The ideas from our entrepreneurs and start-ups are in most cases directly based on spin-off from Europe’s space programs,” explains Mr Ongaro.

“It can be a special technology developed for a spacecraft, an ESA patent, our Galileo satnav system, Earth observation satellites data or it can be the reuse of expertise from our development of satellites and launchers that is turned into a novel non-space application. In all cases, it results in a new European company.”

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Figure 11: Finding the best wind farm site is simple by using a new system from start-up company Leosphere, hosted at ESA’s Business Incubation Center in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. The lidar technology the company has used is taken from ESA’s forthcoming Aeolus mission, which will do the same task except from space, to capture a 3D map of Earth’s wind fields (image credit: Leosphere) 11)

300 start-ups and many new jobs

The first application round of 2015 saw 21 new start-ups selected, taking the total beyond 300. Among these are good examples of the diversity of business ideas.

In Barcelona, Spain, the company North Europe 2012 will develop an underwater robot to collect detailed data on sea depth, water quality and sea floor details to create accurate 3D underwater maps. Accurate satnav data, autonomous navigation, radio systems and advanced sensors will be combined to develop a prototype.

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Figure 12: An unmanned aircraft system guided by satnav has been developed at ESA’s Business Incubation Center in Darmstadt, Germany, to provide rapid monitoring of land areas and disaster zones. The planes have already helped Spanish farmers in Andalusia to fight land erosion (image credit: Mavinci) 12)

In Germany, the young Geodetic Cloud Computing Service company is hosted in Darmstadt to develop a web-based service offering satnav information at higher accuracy, faster and at lower cost than is currently available.

Rather than using conventional satnav data, they will work with the satnav’s phase signal combined with corrective information from ground stations to obtain higher accuracy.

At the Sud France incubator, TRAXxs entrepreneurs will combine satnav tracking and shoes. With miniaturized, low-power microelectronics and antennas embedded in shoes, realtime tracking will be available on smartphones, tablets and web portals.

The Active Aerogels group are hosted in Portugal to develop new uses for aerogels in aircraft manufacturing to improve thermal and acoustic insulation.

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Figure 13: The stability of buildings and infrastructures like roads can now be monitored in real time by a new technique with its roots in space. The approach was developed by Italian start-up company Nhazca at ESA’s Business Incubation Center in Lazio near Rome, Italy, by combining satellite Earth observation data and ground-based radar imaging technology, which works in much the same way as satellites scan surfaces on Earth (image credit: NHAZCA) 13)

In Bavaria, Germany, the Vemcon start-up are looking to increase the productivity of bulldozers and other heavy-duty mobile machines by improving the operational tools available to drivers. These machines have become more complex, carrying different tools for a variety of tasks, and Vemcon proposes to use the latest man-machine methodologies to improve the driver’s handling of these large machines.

Incubator approach is expanding

“We expect more BICs, as ESA Member States see the advantage of supporting spin-off from their investment in Europe’s space programs to create successful new local companies and jobs under this initiative,” adds Mr Ongaro. “It is just a matter of taking advantage of all our space technologies, patents and expertise which are ripe and ready to use to create new businesses in Europe.”

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Figure 14: ESA's Technology Transfer Program Office coordinates the eleven ESA Business Incubation Centers (BICs) in nine countries (image credit: ESA) 14)




ESA Training Program for YGT (Young Graduate Trainees) from Universities

The Young Graduate Trainee program offers a one-year experience at ESA and is a launch pad for many exciting opportunities in aerospace, research institutes or in international organizations such as ESA. 15)

Are you about to take your finals? Or do you already have your Master’s degree? If so, then you can apply to ESA as a 'Young Graduate Trainee' (YGT). This high-caliber program lasts for one year and gives successful applicants an opportunity to gain valuable experience in the development and operation of space missions.

Who can apply?

Every year, we publish about 100 YGT job opportunities, aimed mainly at engineers and scientists, graduates in Information Technology, Natural or Social Science and Business.

To be eligible for the YGT program, you must be:

• A student in the final year of a Master’s degree at University or an equivalent institutes or have just graduated. Candidates are required to have completed their Master's degree by the time they start work at ESA. (Should you already hold a PhD, please have a look at our Research Fellowship program, which will be in line with your background and level of qualification)

• A citizen of one of the ESA Member States or from one of the European Cooperating States, Slovenia as an Associated Member State or Canada as a Cooperating State.

• ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. Applications from women are encouraged. - If you need support with your application due to a disability, please email contact.human.resources@esa.int.

What we offer you

• Valuable experience that could open doors to a career within Europe’s space sector, renowned research institutes or, of course, ESA.

• An international and multicultural environment

• A one year contract

• Approximately €2,300 per month exempt from national income tax in ESA Member States and excellent employment conditions. The exact amount will depend on the location of the ESA Establishment.

• Travel expenses at the beginning and end of the contract (including travel expenses for spouse and children if they reside with the trainee during the contract)

• 2.5 days paid leave per month

• Comprehensive health cover under ESA’s social security scheme

How to apply

Opportunities go online once a year in mid-November, and stay open for one month.

Before applying

• Once published, you will be able to browse the ESA list of opportunities on our page here.

• Select the one that best matches your interests and profile - focus your application on an opportunity that genuinely interests you and fits your educational background.

• To apply, you first have to register and create your candidate profile with your CV and motivation letter.

Once you have applied, you will be able to track the status of your application.

After applying

• Candidates are selected by the relevant tutor and recruitment interviews typically take place in March.

• The take-up-duty date is then made by mutual agreement and can be any time from May to September of that same year.

All candidates will be informed of the outcome of their application by email.

Throughout the year you may find that some additional YGT posts are published. So that you do not miss a single chance for your career at ESA, you can now sign up with us to receive job alerts. - Towards the end of the traineeship period, trainees are asked to submit a report on their activities and the accomplishments achieved during the year.

Table 2: The application procedure


Some reports from Trainees

• 05 December 2019: Eleni joined ESA in October 2018 to work on the MC (Visual Monitoring Camera) of Mars Express. She shares her experience from ESAC in Spain where she helps observe the red planet. 16)

Hi Eleni, could you introduce yourself to our readers?

- My name is Eleni, I am 23 years old, I was born and raised in the UK but am half British and half Greek. I have been passionate about space since a very young age so after initial studies in Geography, I studied for a Masters Degree in Planetary Science at UCL in London during which time I applied to be a YGT at ESA.

What do you as a YGT?

- At ESA, I work for the Mars Express Mission in the Science Ground Segment Team at ESAC. My role specifically deals with the Visual Monitoring Camera instrument. This is an instrument on-board Mars Express which was originally designed to be an engineering camera and is now used as a scientific instrument.

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Figure 15: Photo of Eleni Ravanis at ESA/ESAC (photo credit: ESA, Loraine B)

How did that shift in use come about?

- The VMC (Visual Monitoring Camera) is a wide-angle camera, which means that we can take pictures of Mars with the entire planet, or large regions, in the shot. It is a relatively low-resolution camera but it allows us to collect scientific information and data for atmospheric observation. For example, in the past few days we have seen evidence of high-altitude clouds around Mars, which our science team is studying.

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Figure 16: Image from VMC on-board Mars Express acquired on 27 November 2019 (image credit: ESA)

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

- This changes throughout the month as we work through the planning cycle for Mars Express. Over the past couple of days, I have been adding limb observations for VMC, using ESA’s planning program ‘MAPPS’. I find it really exciting to know that we plan these now, and then in about two months a camera orbiting around Mars will take these pictures! The rest of the month, I am working on data processing with our pipeline written in Python, and discussing things like calibration with our science colleagues at the UPV/EHU university in Bilbao. Most of my time right now is spent preparing datasets for ingestion into the Planetary Science Archive, so that VMC data can be more widely used by the community.

Do you have fun?

- Definitely, the Mars Express team are really kind, enthusiastic and supportive, and I was given responsibilities quite quickly which I liked.

Have you always been passionate about space?

- Definitely! Although my undergraduate degree was in geography I have always been passionate about space. Most people think that you have to study physics to work in the space sector, I don’t think that is true. I think it is useful to have a background in geography and/or planetary science and apply that to other areas.

From all the opportunities published, how did you choose the one you applied for?

- I was really interested in Mars missions or future Human Exploration missions so my first action was to look for ‘Mars’ using the search tool! After I narrowed down my selection, I was really inspired by the opportunity related to the Mars Express Mission and happily my background was also better suited to this position.

- Interestingly, during the Young Professional Event at ESA this year, another YGT told me “I almost applied for your position” and the funny thing was that I almost applied for her position! So it ended well that we both applied for the one that we eventually got!

What are your plans for next year?

- I am now into an extension for a second year, so I am very excited to continue my mission with the Mars Express team! After this year, I hope to do a PhD (continuing with Mars science).

And we usually ask for one piece of advice to share with people who would like to apply. What would yours be?

- Apply for the opportunity that you find the most interesting. Look carefully at the criteria, select one and show how it matches your profile and your interests.

- And if you are selected for an interview, and at some point someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, explain how you would try to know. During my interview, my supervisor asked me something I didn’t know. It was a bit daunting, but I replied “ok, now I don’t know, but here is what I would do to find the answer” and that is the attitude they were looking for.

• 02 December 2019: Nicolas Soubirous, Spacecraft Operations Engineer, shares his YGT (Young Graduate Trainee) experience at ESA, working in the EarthCARE, SEOSat & SMOS Missions Operations Unit at ESOC, Germany. 17)

Figure 17: Nicolas Soubirous of France shares his YGT (Young Graduate Trainee) experience at ESA (video credit: ESA)

• 30 November 2019: Ina's YGT experience in space architecture and infrastructure. 18)

Figure 18: Ina Cheibas talks about her Young Graduate Trainee (YGT) experience in the Advanced Concepts Team at ESTEC, The Netherlands, where her role was to propose and develop additive manufacturing techniques for a space habitat with in situ resources (video credit: ESA)

• 26 November 2019: Pierre-Yves Cousteau is a marine conservationist, professional diver and filmmaker. Prior to exploring the oceans like his father Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famous undersea explorer, he joined ESA as a Young Graduate Trainee in 2008. Pierre-Yves shares his recollections of ESA and the space sector and his experience of now being the head of his own marine conservation citizen’s organization. 19)

- One of his ongoing activities, Project Hermes, aims to improve climate models by supplementing sea surface temperatures from satellites with in situ measurements, to better understand and protect the ocean.

- Pierre-Yves, after several years, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your YGT experience?

- The amazing colleagues and friends that I met there. I also keep fond memories of casually meeting astronauts in the office hallway, how cool is that? I also remember strolling around the propulsion laboratory and seeing the amazing projects going on in there. ESTEC is such a playground for the mind, constantly stimulating!

- What did you do as a YGT?

- I worked on coordination between the Agency’s engineers and scientists who were planning to fly biology experiments to the International Space Station (ISS). My job was to go back and forth between the two until all requirements for both parties were met. Once done, I gathered all the information into a report, one of the many moving pieces required to take the experiment to the ISS.

- What did you study that led you to this job?

- I started my undergraduate degree in general biology. I was passionate about understanding the origin of life on Earth and exobiology. That quickly brought me from the stars to the oceans, but at the time I joined the International Space University to learn more about space studies.

- This led me to do an internship at NASA Ames. An amazing experience. We went to the Atacama Desert in Chile, the driest place on Earth where it rains every eleven years. Due to its surface conditions, it is considered a Mars analogue on Earth. I was in charge of finding and studying nematodes in the soil. These microscopic worms have the uncanny ability to remain dormant in a dry state (anhydrobiosis) for thousands of years until water becomes available again.

- After my internship, I really wanted to understand all these processes of anhydrobiosis and evolutionary biochemistry. So I went back to university for a Master’s degree in biochemistry before I applied for a YGT position in biology at ESTEC.

- And after your YGT, did you continue to work in the space sector?

- I became a diving instructor just before finishing my YGT and while I was scuba diving, I realized that I wanted to focus on that. I really love diving and my name being Cousteau, I thought ‘maybe I should do something about it!’ And I did.

- I founded Cousteau Divers, the organization I’ve run for 10 years, with the aim of bringing together a community of divers and ocean lovers, and giving them a way to effectively share their knowledge of the ocean. Basically, a platform to share what we explore during our dives, pictures of the species we see, how the area evolves. Cousteau Divers has evolved quite a bit in the past ten years and this year we’re launching Project Hermes to monitor climate change beneath the surface of the ocean (www.project-hermes.com).

- Tell us more about Project Hermes!

- What I do now is more related to the conservation of the natural environment on Earth and specifically the oceans. There is such an emergency to protect our planet so I am trying to do my bit in that. - One of the hopes for Project Hermes is to help ground-truth satellites measuring sea surface temperatures and improve climate models.

- The ocean plays a major role in the climate system, it is basically Earth’s air conditioning, absorbing 90% of the planet’s heat. In the shallow areas, there is a lot of exchange between the atmosphere and the ocean through wave action and a lot of the ocean’s biodiversity is located in the coastal areas. Dive computers are unfortunately not accurate enough to measure temperatures for scientific purposes. We are specifically looking to monitor thermoclines, the temperature layers in the oceans where change can be several degrees within a 2-3 cm depth change. There are missing pieces of information today in our understanding of how the oceans work.

- How will temperature be monitored around the world?

- Thanks to the work of Project Hermes volunteers including our two brilliant engineers, Brad Bazemore and Brendon Walters, our device ‘Remora’ was born this year. It can easily be fixed onto a scuba diving tank which means that any diver around the world can participate in this project. The device is a data platform collecting information with high precision and sending it seamlessly to our cloud application in near real-time. The entire project is open-source, and invites divers and engineers to collaborate in better understanding the ocean.

- What’s your advice to students who would like to apply for a YGT?

- Do your best and enjoy the ride. The more you put into your work environment, the more you get out of it. In retrospect (and this doesn’t apply only to my YGT experience but to most of my career and my personal life too), it is not so much where you work and who you work for than who you work with that can shape your experience. At ESA, I found really wonderful, inspiring people who helped me grow as a person, professionally and personally.

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Figure 19: Pierre-Yves Cousteau (photo credit: Remy Steiner)

• 25 November 2019: YGT experience in the ESA Future Missions Office. 20)

Figure 20: Priya Patel, System Engineer, talks about her experience as a Young Graduate Trainee (YGT) working on the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna Mission (LISA), video credit: ESA

• 14 September 2019: How to come up with an idea for Mission Space Lab. 21)

Figure 21: For those looking for ideas for Mission Space Lab, this video offers some tips on how to come up with experiments by taking into account the AstroPi sensors available as well as some practical constraints (video credit: ESA)


1) ”ESA ministers commit to biggest ever budget,” ESA Press Release No 22-2019, 28 November 2019, URL: http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news/ESA_ministers_commit_to_biggest_ever_budget

2) ”Agency Corporate News,” ESA, November 2019, URL: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news

3) ”Record funding for European space investments in Seville,” ESA / Corporate News, 02 December 2019, URL: http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news
/Record_funding_for_European_space_investments_in_Seville

4) ”ESA and Luxembourg Space Agency confirm partnership on space resources,” ESA, 27 November 2019, URL: http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news
/ESA_and_Luxembourg_Space_Agency_confirm_partnership_on_space_resources

5) ”ESA and EU sign Contribution Agreement on Horizon 2020 space activities,” ESA corporate news, 16 April 2019, URL: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news
/ESA_and_EU_sign_Contribution_Agreement_on_Horizon_2020_space_activities

6) ”Update from ESA Council, December 2018,” ESA corporate news, 14 December 2018, URL: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news/Update_from_ESA_Council_December_2018

7) ”Brief history of ESOC,” ESA / ESOC history / Highlights, 17 August 2017, URL: http://www.esa.int/About_Us/ESOC/ESOC_history/Highlights/Brief_history_of_ESOC

8) ”European ministers ready ESA for a United Space in Europe in the era of Space 4.0,” ESA, Ministerial Council 2016, 02 December 2016, URL: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Ministerial_Council_2016
/European_ministers_ready_ESA_for_a_United_Space_in_Europe_in_the_era_of_Space_4.0

9) ”From ESA: more than 300 new companies,” ESA / Applications / Telecommunications & Integrated Applications / Technology Transfer, 18 June 2015, URL: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Telecommunications_Integrated_Applications
/Technology_Transfer/From_ESA_more_than_300_new_companies

10) ”Opening ESA BIC Portugal - Nuno Crato and Franco Ongaro at the Space Exhibition,” ESA, 10 November 2014, URL: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Telecommunications_Integrated_Applications
/Technology_Transfer/From_ESA_more_than_300_new_companies

11) ”Optimize wind energy,” ESA, 18 June 2015, URL: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2015/06/Optimise_wind_energy

12) ”Mavinci help fight land erosion by unmanned aircraft,” ESA, 18 June 2015, URL: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Telecommunications_Integrated_Applications
/Technology_Transfer/From_ESA_more_than_300_new_companies

13) ”ESA BIC startup on landslides,” ESA, 3 December 2014, URL: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2015/06/ESA_BIC_startup_on_landslides

14) ”ESA Business Incubation Centers - December 2015,” ESA, 8 December 2014, URL: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Telecommunications_Integrated_Applications
/Technology_Transfer/From_ESA_more_than_300_new_companies

15) ”Graduates: Young Graduate Trainees,” ESA, URL: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Graduates_Young_Graduate_Trainees

16) ”Travel to Mars with Eleni Ravanis, YGT at ESA!,” ESA / About Us / Careers at ESA, 05 December 2019, URL: http://www.esa.int/About_Us
/Careers_at_ESA/Travel_to_Mars_with_Eleni_Ravanis_YGT_at_ESA

17) ”Nicolas's YGT as a Spacecraft Operations Engineer,” ESA, 2 December 2019, URL: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Videos/2019/11
/Nicolas_s_YGT_as_a_Spacecraft_Operations_Engineer

18) ”Ina's YGT experience in space architecture and infrastructure,” ESA, 30 November 2019, URL: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Videos/2019/11
/Ina_s_YGT_experience_in_space_architecture_and_infrastructure

19) ”From the stars to the ocean, Pierre-Yves Cousteau’s YGT experience,” ESA, 26 November 2019, URL: http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA
/From_the_stars_to_the_ocean_Pierre-Yves_Cousteau_s_YGT_experience

20) Priya's YGT experience in the ESA Future Missions Office!,ESA 25 November 2019, URL: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Videos/2019/11
/Priya_s_YGT_experience_in_the_ESA_Future_Missions_Office

21) ”How to come up with an idea for Mission Space Lab,” ESA, 14 September 2019, URL: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Videos/2019/09
/How_to_come_up_with_an_idea_for_Mission_Space_Lab



The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (herb.kramer@gmx.net).

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