ESA title
Testing new materials under high pressure and low temperatures
Enabling & Support

GSTP Element 1: Develop

ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology / Shaping the Future

Element 1 makes up the core of the General Support Technology Programme. The activities performed under Element 1 are dedicated to maturing technologies and techniques, building components, making engineering tools and developing test beds for ESA and National missions, all the way from an engineering prototype, or breadboard, up to qualification. 

The objective of this core element is to mature future space technologies, while supporting capability building and sustainability across all the Participating States. Companies and research instittutes of any size can participate in this core element, with a strong focus on SMEs. 

What makes a GSTP Element 1 activity?

GSTP Element 1 is driven by a work plan, which is updated five times each year, with roughly 90 new activities added over the year.

How do activities get into the GSTP E1 work plan?
How do activities get into the GSTP E1 work plan?

There are two streams by which activities are included in this work plan. Two thirds of activities are considered ad-hoc activities. These can include any follow on activities or continuations from other ESA programmes, such as TDE, or can be brought to us through targeted proposals with clear applications. Alternately, activities reach the workplan by first being included in the GSTP Element 1 Compendia. This is a compilation of activity proposals considered to be top priority for ESA, with the aim of triggering discussions among industry and Participating States. These proposals are evaluated and selected by ESA's technical experts.

In both cases, ad-hoc activities or Compendia activities, there must first be interest from delegations before they can be considered for the work plan. 

In addition to the core activities, Element 1 contains frameworks with specific objectives and mechanisms. 


Within Element 1 several frameworks have been introduced to implement specific types of activities faster. The following frameworks are in operation:

Growing solar cells on nothing
Growing solar cells on nothing


  • Smaller activities with the aim to unblock barriers in the way of larger critical technologies
  • All contracts are under €200k  (or under €80k for studies)
  • Projects can last a maximum of nine months
  • 140 activities have been initiated so far for more than €22 million across 15 countries [updated mid 2020]
  • Activities include at least one of the following tasks:
    • Analysis of specifications, development actions, schedule and cost
    • Assessment of the benefits and disadvantages of the solution with respect to the state-of-the-art
    • Assessment of critical issues related to using a given technology for a specific application, using analysis/simulation and/or breadboarding
Examples of 3D-printed lattices
Examples of 3D-printed lattices

Advanced Manufacturing

  • Allows entities with a background in space to see how the use of advanced manufacturing might impact their products and outputs.
  • Up to €250k per activity
  • Activities are expected to take one year or less
  • It involves the selection of a few products that show potential for improvement and expansion then making preliminary designs and breadboards to verify and validate the process, before finally preparing a development and qualification plan
  • Entities benefit from the expertise and know-how of a recognised applied research organisation
Rolled up solar arrays
Rolled up solar arrays

Building Blocks

  • Targets the buildiing of capabilities in a given ESA Member State or across different Member States
  • To prepare and develop enabling capabilities and the associated building blocks for space related systems and the associated sub-systems
  • Up to €500k per activity
  • Up to 18 months
  • Nominal technology development activities, with typical deliverables


If you would like to know more about Element 1 activities please contact Noelia Peinado.

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