ESA’s Networking/Partnering Initiative (NPI) is active at the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT). The Initiative supports work carried out by universities and research institutes on advanced technologies with potential space applications, with the aim of fostering increased interaction between ESA, European universities, research institutes and industry.
It welcomes proposals from universities and research organisations in ESA Member States for doctoral and post-doctoral research in technical domains relevant to the “Spaceship ECSAT”.
Spaceship ECSAT aims at investigating innovative technological and operational concepts in support of Human and Robotic Exploration.
Spaceship ECSAT aims to develop low ‘Technology Readiness Level’ (TRL) concepts for future exploration, supported in particular by two domains:
- Robotics Autonomous systems
Sample curation related activities
In particular, Spaceship ECSAT will focus on new activities related to:
- ROBOTICS & AUTONOMY:
- Investigation of innovative technological solutions related to automated Verification and Validation of robotic systems and autonomy in three ways: simulations, field trials and data archiving.
- Curation and analysis of planetary analogue and simulant materials. Research areas include development of 3D printing technologies, creation of new simulants specifically for ISRU activities, extraction and purification of water and other volatiles, and development of ‘recipes’ for standard testing of components and hardware using simulant materials.
- Advanced man-machine interaction (voice recognition, augmented reality, etc.)
- Automated robotic capabilities (navigation, pattern recognition, arm motion, etc.)
Spaceship ECSAT benefits from the co-location with entities at the Harwell campus and from a number of established partnerships with academia and industry across Europe. One of the objectives of the NPI programme 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 ESA laboratories: if applicable, NPI participants may be able to use ECSAT and ESTEC facilities for a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 months under supervision from an ESA Technical Officer. (Access to ECSAT 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 ECSAT 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.
Universities and research organisations interested in taking part in the ECSAT NPI can contact Spaceship ECSAT under this email address:
Future Calls for Opportunities will be published on this website.