The software developed, procured or used by ESA falls into four main categories:
Space segment software
Software needed on-board a spacecraft or launcher. In general this software is very closely related to spacecraft design or to scientific experiments flown in space. Over the past 10 years the amount of such software has strongly increased and it now forms a significant part of the overall spacecraft development cost. Many patents exist in this area and this type of software often contains proprietary inventions or know-how on spacecraft design that require strong protection by copyrights or patents.
Ground segment software
Software needed on the ground to operate spacecraft on the ground, such as the numerous control systems or in flight. It also includes software to operate ground infrastructure such as ground stations, communication networks, etc. and supporting software for navigation, operation planning, data distribution, etc.
This covers a wide range of application software to support the design of space systems. Typically it is designed to perform analytical tasks in diverse engineering disciplines. As many of these software products are highly specialised and essential for competitive spacecraft design they need protecting by copyright.
Software to support the management and administration of the Agency. The majority of these products are commercial products that are either used directly as they are or after being adapted to fit the needs of the Agency.
All computer programmes belonging to ESA should be marked with: copyright©ESA followed by the year.