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What is the ESA Academy?

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ESA Academy is ESA's overarching educational programme for university students from ESA Member States, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia.

Through a tailored transfer of space know-how and interaction with space professionals, ESA Academy takes students through a learning path that enriches their academic education.  As a result, students can enhance their skills, boost their motivation and ambitions, become acquainted with the standard professional practices applied nowadays in the space sector, and be better prepared for the labour market.  

ESA Academy is not only open to students already involved in space-related studies in the science and engineering fields. It is also meant for science and engineering students who did not choose space as their specialty, to show how space facilities can open a range of new research possibilities and applications, thus opening a new perspective on the learning of space disciplines. 

ESA Academy is run in close collaboration with European universities and is designed to complement academic education. Its objective is to enhance the students’ educational experience and gain both practical and theoretical know-how and expertise in various disciplines, ranging from space sciences to engineering, space medicine, spacecraft operations, project and risk management, product and quality assurance, standardisation and much more.

Presentation of the ESA Education opportunities for tertiary students
Presentation of the ESA Education opportunities for tertiary students

The two pillars of ESA Academy

Officially launched in March 2016, ESA Academy brings together the ESA Education Programme elements for universities under two interconnected pillars of activity:  

  • Hands-on Space Projects, a continuing programme that enables university students to gain first-hand, end-to-end experience of space-related projects. 
  • Training and Learning Programme, an  initiative offering university students a portfolio of different training sessions and learning opportunities. 

The Hands-on Space Projects 
Since the mid-2000s, ESA has offered university students the opportunity to participate in real space-related projects. Today, these opportunities are grouped under ESA Academy’s Hands-on Space Projects, a portfolio of recurring programme opportunities ranging from small satellites to scientific and technology experiments. In all cases, students directly experience what it takes to run the full lifecycle of a space project, from conception to operation. 

Satellites for students, built by students 

  • Fly Your Satellite! is the programme supporting student-built CubeSats- small satellites with a standard mass and size multiple of 1kg and 10 cm per side. At each programme cycle, student teams are supported in the design, integration, and testing of their CubeSat. They learn how to undergo formal technical reviews and, if they achieve readiness for flight, they prepare their satellite for a launch sponsored by ESA, either on a conventional rocket or from the International Space Station. Finally, they operate their satellite in orbit
    Contact: cubesats @
  • ESEOthe European Student Earth Orbiter, is a microsatellite developed, integrated, and tested by European university students under the guidance of ESA and the space industry. 33x33x63 cm in size and weighing about 45 kg, ESEO measures radiation levels in low Earth orbit (sun-synchronous) and tests technologies for future education satellite missions. ESEO was launched on 3 December 2018 and has a planned nominal mission duration of six months.
    Contact: eseo @
Students during a Fly Your Thesis! campaign
Students during a Fly Your Thesis! campaign

Student experiments

Plenty of opportunities and platforms to run student-built experiments and enhance students’ research and engineering skills are offered every year. Experiments in the field of physics, biology, chemistry and biochemistry, geology and atmospheric sciences, material sciences, astrophysics, human physiology, and technology demonstrations can be proposed.

Gravity-related experiments

  • Fly Your Thesis! : student experiments to be run in microgravity conditions on Zero-G parabolic flights, operated by Novespace, France. 90 parabolas, each featuring about 20 seconds of weightlessness, per campaign.  
    Contact: flyyourthesis @
  • Drop Your Thesis!: student experiments to be run in microgravity conditions using the ZARM Drop Tower, Germany. Five launches, each featuring either 5 or 9 seconds of microgravity, per campaign.
    Contact: dropyourthesis @
  • Orbit Your Thesis!: university-built experiments onboard the International Space Station orbiting the Earth for up to four months at a time, with students in full control of their research 24/7.
    Contact: orbityourthesis @
  • Spin Your Thesis! : student experiments to be run in hypergravity conditions using ESA’s Large Diameter Centrifuge at ESTEC, Netherlands. Two and a half days per campaign of exclusive access to the centrifuge, experiencing accelerations between 1 and 20 times Earth’s gravity.
    Contact: spinyourthesis @   

Experiments on sounding rockets and stratospheric balloons 

  • Fly a Rocket!: a programme in collaboration with the Norwegian Centre for Space Related Education and the Norweigian Space Agency. Individual students participate in a online study course before an intensive one week sounding rocket campaign at Andøya Space Centre, Norway. 
    Contact: flyarocket @
  • REXUS/BEXUS : a Swedish (SNSA)/German (DLR) programme, run in collaboration with ESA, allowing student experiments to fly on sounding rockets and stratospheric balloons launched from Esrange, Sweden.
    Contact: rexus-bexus @

The Training and Learning Programme

ESA Academy students during a training course
ESA Academy students during a training course

Established in 2016, the ESA Academy’s Training and Learning Programme is meant to offer a varied portfolio of training sessions given by space professionals from all ESA fields of expertise, as well as from academia and space industry, including:

  • Space engineering
  • Space sciences
  • Space medicine
  • Spacecraft operations and communication
  • Project and risk management
  • Product & quality insurance
  • Standardisation
  • Technology transfer and innovation
  • Mission planning
  • and more


The training sessions are available to interested science and engineering university students, not only to those that are already engaged in space-related studies. Specific sessions are also offered to the student teams participating in ESA Academy’s Hands-on Space Projects, as they are a perfect complement to their learning experience and can support them in the different phases of their projects.  

Contact: tlp @

Training facilities at the ESA Education Training Centre

ESA Education staff and student CubeSat teams
ESA Education staff and student CubeSat teams

In addition to providing access to existing ESA establishments and partners’ infrastructures, ESA Academy makes use of  dedicated facilities located in the ESA Education Training Centre of ESA’s ESEC-Galaxia, in Transinne, Belgium:

  • The Training and Learning Facility, consisting of a training room and an educational Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) where university students attend 4 to 5 day training sessions, complementary to their academic education. 
  •  The CubeSat Support Facility, consisting of a cleanroom equipped with an electrodynamic shaker, a thermal vacuum chamber and additional test equipment where students participating in the Fly Your Satellite! programme are guided in the construction and testing of their small satellites, and can follow hands-on demonstrations of satellite integration and testing.

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