ESA title
Enabling & Support

About Discovery & Preparation

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Preparing for the Future

Since its foundation, ESA has invested in numerous Discovery and Preparation activities. Our activities interact in different ways with all of the ESA programmes, but our main role is to lay the groundwork for the Agency’s future activities in the short to medium term.

The objectives of our activities are to:

  • Contribute to the formulation of the overall ESA strategy;
  • Study feasibility for selection of new mission concepts;
  • Prepare/demonstrate the case for approval and funding of new optional projects/programmes;
  • Support the evolution of ESA by analysing and testing new working methodologies.

The Discovery and Preparation activities are organised around three domains:

Mission assessment studies

The programme performs mission feasibility studies, which provide ESA member states and scientific community with the necessary information for the selection of new mission concepts and the approval and funding of new optional programmes. We also perform ESA internal mission concept assessments via the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF).

Interdisciplinary activities

Our activities facilitate inter-directorate work e.g. through the internal biannual Call for study Ideas and the 30 to 50 new activities resulting from it in each cycle. Each proposal for new studies must involve representatives from at least three different directorates. The topics investigated run across the entire spectrum of the Agency’s activities, with the result that ESA staff act as the main "discoverers" and "filters" of new ideas in the European space sector. Each study usually lasts one to two years, sufficient time for in-depth exploration of each subject.

Strategy studies

Our activities also contribute to the formulation of the overall ESA strategy. We support the evolution of ESA by analysing trends and identifying potential issues, and by testing new working methodologies – laying the groundwork for the Agency’s future activities.

Throughout our activities we actively seek the views and suggestions of industry by organising workshops, visits and interviews.

For further information please contact:

Ian Carnelli
Discovery and Preparation Programme
Future Preparation and Strategic Studies Office (TEC-SF)
ESA's Directorate of Technical and Quality Management
Tel. +33 1 5369 7109
E-mail: ian.carnelli @

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