ESA title
Science & Exploration


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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Business

This glossary contains explanations of the key-terms used in this website. The explanations are not legal or contractually binding definitions.

Business Plan: the written document that must be attached to the Commercial Proposal if there is a request for ESA Promotion Support. This is granted by ESA upon acceptance of a submitted Commercial Proposal, with an attached Business Plan, on the basis of a number of evaluation criteria and in accordance with the restrictions stated in the ESA Promotion Policy. The Business Plan should provide additional information (in particular financial information) about the commercial project.

Commercial Evaluation Team (CET): an 'ad hoc' team which is established by the to perform the technical, ethical and financial evaluation of a Commercial Proposal in accordance with internal ESA rules.

Commercial Agents: ESA-selected Commercial Agents are responsible for marketing and selling the use of ESA facilities of the ISS and the related resources and services provided by ESA and/or its Co-operation Agreement Industrial Partners in certain market sectors. The Commercial Agents represent the interface with the customers, offering and concluding arrangements for the end-to-end services provided by ESA and its Co-operation Agreement Industrial Partners.

Commercial Contract: the final binding document with ESA for the execution of the proposed commercial initiative under the terms and conditions agreed by the parties during the contractual negotiation phase which follows the evaluation phase where the Commercial Proposal has gained acceptance by the CET.

Commercial Proposal: the official document submitted for the attention of the ESA Business Development Office where details and objectives of the proposed commercial project are presented from a technical, ethical and financial standpoint. This document represents the official starting point for doing business with ESA.

Business Development Office (BDO): the specialised team within ESA that has been set up to co-ordinate ESA's activities in the area of commercialisation. The Business Development Office is based in the ESA establishment of ESTEC, at Noordwijk (the Netherlands). It has the key role of being the ESA interface towards the Commercial Agents and the Co-operation Agreement Industrial Partners as well as being a valuable point of reference for the customers.

Co-operation Agreement: an agreement between ESA and a number of European space and non-space companies, aimed at preparing and facilitating the development of commercial utilisation of the ISS. The parties have committed resources and services that are, in principle, available at promotional conditions to the customer.

Co-operation Agreement Industrial Partners: the European private companies operating in the space sector, or in any other sector that have signed the Co-operation Agreement with ESA. By functioning as ISS Service Providers, they provide ISS related services that are required for a particular commercial project (e.g. payload testing and qualification, logistic operations).

Co-operation Agreement Industrial Partners Promotion Support: the term used to specify the Promotion Support requested to, or granted by, the Co-operation Agreement Industrial Partners.

End-to-end services: these include all the services that are necessary to make a project technically and commercially feasible. The services may be provided by ESA, its Co-operation Agreement Industrial Partners and any other third party.

European Space Agency (ESA): an inter-governmental organisation established in 1975 to provide for and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, co-operation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications. Today, 17 European Countries are ESA Member States: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

ESA Medical Board: an ESA independent body established to overview the safety, health and well-being of astronauts and other test subjects involved in all pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight activities and to support ground based investigations in medical matters.

International Partners: 15 Governments that have signed the inter-governmental agreement, which sets forth the rules for the design, development, operation and utilisation of the International Space Station. They are: 11 European Countries, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, Canada and Japan. The European Countries (11 out of 15 ESA Member States) that are International Partners are: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): these include different forms of property protection established by law over intangibles such as ideas, inventions, signs and information. They all assume an act of creation that occurs when an individual exercises his/her mental effort to manipulate the raw material. IPR include registered as well as unregistered intellectual property rights such as patents, utility models, industrial designs, trademarks, service marks, trade names, copyrights, know-how and trade secrets.

International Space Station (ISS): the permanently inhabited space station orbiting the Earth at 400 km altitude for peaceful purposes. Its design, development, operation and utilisation are based on the Inter Governmental Agreement signed in 1998 between the 15 International Partners (see above list in this glossary). The ISS is managed by the following space agencies: ESA (Europe), NASA (USA), FSA (Russia), CSA (Canada) and JAXA (Japan).

Open Call for Commercial Proposals: a permanent call for business ideas. It is the channel through which all the Commercial Proposals related to the ISS can be addressed to ESA at any time. Commercial Proposals must be sent to the Business Development Office.

Payload (P/L): any equipment carried by a spacecraft. A product becomes a payload once it is intended to fly it on board a spacecraft.

Promotion Support: Promotion Support includes Promotion Support from ESA (ESA Promotion Support) and from its Co-operation Agreement Industrial Partners. Promotion Support may be in-cash or in-kind. 'In-cash Promotion Support' includes direct funding, deferred payment and price reduction. 'In-kind Promotion Support' includes, among others, on-ground payload related services, provision of test facilities and expertise. This is granted by ESA upon acceptance of a submitted Commercial Proposal, with an attached Business Plan, on the basis of a number of evaluation criteria and in accordance with the restrictions stated in the ESA Promotion Policy.