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Conditions to participate

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ESA / Education / Orbit Your Thesis

1. Team composition

Students who would like to participate in the Orbit Your Thesis! programme must comply with the following criteria at the time of the application:

One important condition is that the experiment must be an integral part of at least one student's thesis. This can be achieved through a master's thesis, a PhD thesis, a research programme or any form of project supported by the applicant’s university.

At the time of the application, the student teams must be able to show ESA Education Office that they have their university’s support through a letter of endorsement from an endorsing professor or academic supervisor.

Teams must consist of 

  1. A minimum of six students who fulfil the eligibility criteria. At least six team members should comply with the condition of involvement in the syllabus (see above). The final number of team members who can personally assist and participate in the execution of the experiments (should the team be selected) will depend strictly on the requirements of the experiment itself and is subject to acceptance from the Selection Board. We highly recommend that the team composition contains one or more PhD students since the project spans more than one academic year.
  2. minimum of 2 supervisors, covering these three functions:
  • An endorsing professor, responsible for the project, endorsing the experiment proposal on behalf of the university;
  • team leader (the professor, PhD student, or an assistant of the university) coordinating the project at system level and ensuring the milestones and deadlines of the OYT! programme are met;
  • system engineer (a student from the team)

The key roles of team leader and system engineer must be undertaken by citizens of an ESA Member States, Canada or Slovenia

2. Scope of the experiment

The project shall focus on a scientific or technical experiment where a long-term exposure in a microgravity environment is necessary.

  • Experiments on vertebrates will not be accepted.
  • Experiments shall not use more astronaut time than what is required to install and then retrieve the payload from the Ice Cubes Facility.


3. Compliance with the onboard resources

  • The experiment shall comply with the technical constraints that can be found here.
  • Nominally the proposed experiment should aim to fit into 1 U Cube (10 * 10 * 10 cm³). However, depending on the complexity of the experiment and the availability of slots on the facility, ESA Education may consider larger experiments.


4. Proposal submission

In order to apply to Orbit Your Thesis!, the team shall follow the OYT!2020 schedule and submit in a first instance the letter of intent together with the ‘Privacy notice and consent form’ ratified, and in a second instance, a .zip file with the experiment proposal, a first version of the Experiment Flight Safety Data Package, the preliminary questionnaire answered and the official letter of the endorsing professor. The templates can be found in the section Documents.

5. Ranking and Selection

A particular experiment proposal can be submitted a maximum of two times to the 'Orbit Your Thesis!' programme.

All proposals will be reviewed and decisions regarding rankings and selections of the experiments will be taken by a dedicated Selection Board composed of ESA experts and Space Application Services, and a member of ELGRA.
The selection criteria will include, amongst others:

  • the educational value;
  • the mission objectives;
  • the feasibility of the proposed Orbit Your Thesis! project, and its compatibility with the OYT schedule and milestones;
  • the team and project organisation.


If two proposals are of equal quality, priority will be given to teams and/or projects that did not yet participate in another ESA Education Office’s programmes or for which the educational benefits are higher (e.g. number of students involved, relevance of the experiment for master or PhD graduation theses of one or more team members and scientific merit).

ESA Education reserves the right for final decision on participants allowed to be part of this programme. Submitted proposals will be evaluated on completion of all the relevant steps.

Please read the how to apply page carefully.

Please note that the conditions detailed above are subject to change without prior notice.