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Enabling & Support

About Directorate Technology Programmes

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology

ESA’s Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality is the entity responsible within the Agency for the technology developments necessary to implement ESA’s programmes. 

The Directorate is responsible for the implementation of the general technology activities of ESA and coordinates technology developments within their specific programme lines.

Accordingly, it oversees a set of R&D programmes aimed at sourcing innovation beyond the immediate market horizon while also serving to de-risk the innovation process for industry. These are as follows:

Yearly Budget:  ~ 65 M€
Targeted for Technology:  100%
TRL Targeted (at the end of the activity):  up to 3-4
Procurement Policy: Open Competitive, (DN exceptional cases)
Funding of activities:  100%
Call Restriction:  ESA Member States
Low Dark Current 2D VLWIR MCT Detector
Low Dark Current 2D VLWIR MCT Detector

The Basic Technology Research Programme is a mandatory programme organised according to technology domains based in turn on application areas, i.e. Earth Observation, Space Science, Exploration, Space Transportation, Telecommunication and Navigation.

TRP is the only ESA technology Programme supporting all of ESA’s fields of activity across the entire spectrum of technical disciplines, providing the technological nucleus for most future developments.

Moreover, it supports the development of Generic Technologies, either of use to multiple missions or advanced basic technologies of common interest to all applications (e.g. in the field of components, software, power generation, satellite propulsion).

TRP covers the classical technology development (TRP 2 Year Work Plan), ITI (supporting disruptive innovations for space applications as proposed by Industry and Academia) and StarTiger (fast concurrent prototyping of advanced technology).

Ideas can be also proposed via specific announcements of opportunities. Calls for StarTiger  activities are made on a yearly basis via ESA EMITS. The Innovation Triangle Initiative accepts proposals for evaluation related to novel ideas and concepts which are evaluated periodically throughout the year.

For further information, please visit the website Shaping the Future.

General Support Technology Programme (GSTP)
Yearly Budget: ~ 90 M€
Targeted for Technology:  100%
TRL Targeted (at the end of the activity):  5 (and above)
Procurement Policy: Optional Programme, GEO return of 1, Open Competitive (non-competitive tenders are possible)
Funding of activities:  100% (co-funding is possible in Element 1 & 3 and is required for Element 2)


The General Support Technology Programme addresses new needs and emerging applications. Its objectives are to:

  • Enable activities of ESA and National Programmes by developing technology,
  • Support the competitiveness of European industry,
  • Foster innovation and Transfer non-space technology to use in the design of new space systems (‘spin-in’),
  • Enhance European technology non-dependence and the availability of European resources for critical technologies.

The Programme activities are performed under three Elements:

Overview of GSTP Elements
Overview of GSTP Elements

a)  Element 1 “Develop”: Technology developments for future missions, ground applications and tools.

The activities performed under Element 1 are dedicated to the development of technologies, building blocks, components and test beds for projects and the economic operators, i.e. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), Large enterprises, industry, satellite operators, satellite providers, universities and research organisations from low TRL to qualification and covering the following themes:

  • Earth Observation, Science, Robotic Exploration Preparation, Human Spaceflight and Exploration Preparation, Space Transportation and Re-entry Technologies, Navigation, Security for the citizens including Space Situational Awareness,
  • Generic Technologies and Techniques, including cross-cutting technologies such as Clean Space (in particular CleanSat), Advanced Manufacturing, Design to Produce and Space Technologies for Energy,
  • Preparatory activities for the e.Deorbit mission and technology developments in the relevant fields,
  • Technology transfer.


b)  Element 2 “Make”: Development of technology and products for commercial sustainability

 The activities performed under Element 2 and co-funded with industry, aim at:

  • strengthening worldwide competitiveness in new and existing markets,
  • developing products in response to gaps in the supply chain e.g. by environmental regulations, migration to new technology and other causes.


c)  Element 3 “Fly”: In-orbit demonstration of new technologies, preparation of future missions, small missions

The activities performed under Element 3 aim at:

  • implementing in orbit demonstration of technologies either as products in need of acquiring flight heritage, hosted payload or complete space missions (small spacecraft,CubeSats etc.),
  • conducting investigations and studies to prepare for future missions in particular breakthrough and new generation types of missions.









For further information, please visit the website Shaping the Future.

Technology Transfer Programme (TTP) works to share the benefits of ESA research and development, making space sector technologies available to the rest of European industry. 

The Agency's TTP Office identifies industrial needs then maps them to suitable space technologies, as a way of enabling new applications and business opportunities. The TTPO also provides support to new businesses based on the transfer and use of space technologies. 

The TTP office periodically issues calls for companies to undertake Transfer Demonstrator projects. These involve taking technology developed for space and applying it to non-space uses. In addition, periodic calls are made for both companies and technical authorities to undertake studies into the business/technical case for such transfers. Such calls are issued through MST-Aerospace GmbH, the company that manages ESA's Technology Transfer Network (TTN) and runs the Technology Forum website. 

For more information visit ESA's Technology Transfer Programme website. 

European Component Initiative (ECI) aims at maintaining and enhancing a European industrial base for critical technologies needed by Europe's space missions. This key initiative has within a few years managed to turn Europe from a net importer of components into a net exporter. 

ECI exists to reduce the dependence of Europe's space sector on non-European component suppliers, focusing on one of the building blocks of space missions - Electrical, Electronic and Electromagnetic (EEE) components. The ECI increases the availability of European EEE-components used in European space missions by identifying critical space technologies and then developing capabilities to manufacture them within Europe.

ECI procurement takes place on an open competitive basis as a general rule. ESA-funded Invitations to tender, funded on a 100 percent basis, are listed continuously throughout the year on ESA's EMITS website.

Members of the European space components industry and equipment manufacturers have the opportunity to propose future technologies for ECI activities through participation to the ESCC working groups or by directly contacting ECI project office

More information on how to participate is available through the European Space Components Information Exchange System (ESCIES) website.

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