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Participants of the 2020 edition of the Ladybird Guide to Spacecraft Communications Training Course

New opportunity for students to learn about spacecraft communications

15/10/2020 16246 views 49 likes
ESA / Education / ESA Academy

ESA’s Education Office is looking for university engineering students who would like to be introduced to the fascinating world of spacecraft communications. The Online Ladybird Guide to Spacecraft Communications Training Course 2021 will be held during 8 afternoon sessions (Central European Time) between 11 and 22 January 2021 as an online training course.

It’s easy to take spacecraft communications for granted. Yet the art and science of sending commands to a satellite and receiving data back is of paramount importance. Without highly skilled communications engineers, there would be no space missions.

This training course will consist of formal lectures with lots of interaction with the students and will be provided by an ESA Engineer belonging to the Advanced Mission Concepts and Management Support Office of the Mission Operations Department of ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. He will relay real stories of operations engineers battling wayward spacecraft – sometimes winning and sometimes losing. The way communications systems are designed can have a crucial impact on how they are used and on what problems can occur!

Presentation on the Galileo GNSS during a previous training course
Presentation on the Galileo GNSS during a previous training course

The students will also learn about ESA’s European space Security and Education Centre (ESEC) and the activities performed on site, including Galileo and PROBA spacecraft’s operations.

At the end of the training course, the students will have a solid understanding of the challenges of communicating with a spacecraft and the subsystems involved in communications (both on-board and on the ground): what can go wrong, troubleshooting, and traps to be avoided during operations and testing.

Preliminary schedule:

Day 1    Introduction
Day 2    The Challenge 
  Modulation (Part 1)
Day 3    Modulation (Part 2)
Day 4    Coding
  ESA & ESA Education Programme
Day 5    Protocols
  Transmission (Part 1)
Day 6   Transmission (Part 2)
Day 7   Real Ground Stations
  Introduction to Galileo Programme
Day 8   Presentation of ESEC

More information

Who can apply?

Students enrolled in university who fulfil the following criteria:  

  • aged minimum 18 years old. ESA Academy and relevant partners will only appraise applications from students who have no or limited professional experience in relevant engineering or space-related topics;
  • be a citizen of an ESA Member State, Slovenia, Latvia or Canada;
  • be enrolled as a Bachelor, Master, or PhD student in a university for the year 2020-2021 (not graduating before the training course);
  • be studying an engineering subject.

Selected students will be requested to attend all 8 afternoon sessions live.

Upon completion of the training course students will be evaluated via an online questionnaire and will receive a certificate of participation and a course transcript, allowing them to request ECTS credit(s) from their respective universities.

How to apply

Students interacting with the trainer during another online training course
Students interacting with the trainer during another online training course
  • Fill in the application form;
  • Upload a motivation letter (PDF, maximum 1 page, no images);
  • Upload a CV (Europass format, PDF, maximum 2 pages);
  • Upload a formal recommendation letter (PDF, maximum 1 page, including signature, no images) from a university professor or academic supervisor of current university (if not possible due to the current COVID-19 situation in your country, please ask a university professor or an academic advisor to send a recommendation email to;
  • Upload a copy of academic records (PDF);

All answers and documents should be in English (except academic records if not available).

Students wishing to apply for the training course must submit their applications by 1 December 2020.

For more information, please contact