The European Astronaut Centre is now a participant in ESA’s Networking/Partnering Initiative (NPI) and welcomes proposals from universities and research organizations in ESA Member States for doctoral and post-doctoral research in technical domains relevant to the “Spaceship EAC” project.
Spaceship EAC aims at investigating innovative technological and operational concepts in support of ESA’s exploration strategy which, in accordance with the Global Exploration Roadmap, foresees a sequence of increasingly complex missions to cislunar space and to the lunar surface. Initial robotic exploration missions will be followed by robotic/human cooperation (robots on the surface controlled by astronauts in orbit) and eventually by human surface missions.
In particular, Spaceship EAC pursues the following activities:
- Investigation of innovative technological solutions at a low Technology-Readiness Level in exploration-relevant domains, including, but not limited to:
- In-situ resource utilisation (‘living off the land’), materials and additive manufacturing;
- Energy production and storage
- Radiation shielding
- Simulation, virtual reality and analogues
- Robotics and human factors
- Life support, habitability and systems architecture
- Exercise hardware and countermeasure concepts
- Progressive capability enhancement of an evolvable lunar analogue facility (end of initial construction work: Q3/2016) which includes a large regolith test bed area, a configurable communication infrastructure and integration with existing EAC control assets.
- Demonstration of operational concepts and technologies, providing early involvement of operations experts, including that of astronaut end-users.
Spaceship EAC benefits from the co-location with the DLR Cologne research facilities and from a number of established partnerships with academia and industry across Europe. One of the objectives of the NPI program is to further expand and strengthen this network, in order to identify and foster new collaboration opportunities among research institutions and different industrial sectors and thus better serve the needs of European space exploration.
Proposals accepted by the initiative will be offered support in a number of ways:
- Co-funding – The NPI can co-fund research up to 50% or €30,000 per year for a doctorate degree (maximum 3 years) or post-doctoral investigations (maximum two years).
- Access to ESTEC laboratories: if applicable, NPI participants may be able to use EAC and ESTEC facilities for a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 months under supervision from an ESA Technical Officer. (Access to EAC partner facilities can also be evaluated.)
- Technical support – NPI participants gain access to ESA experts with whom they can discuss proposal concepts and verify their potential for space applications
- Networking – NPI participants will be able to search for industrial partners for further cooperation and build 'innovation networks' through ESA-wide and Spaceship EAC links
Upon selection of a proposal, ESA enters into a contractual arrangement with the university or research institute concerned as the researcher will remain a student or employee of the establishment concerned.
ESA will designate Technical Officer(s) who will assist in elaborating proposals and ideas. Universities and research organisations interested in taking part in the EAC NPI can contact Spaceship EAC under this email address:
Last update: 8 September 2016