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Enabling & Support

About the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP)

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology / Shaping the Future

The GSTP enables missions by making sure the right technology, at the right maturity level is available at the right time.

What is GSTP?

Through the optional General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) ESA, Participating States and Industry work together to convert promising engineering concepts into a broad spectrum of useable products.

The Programme takes leading-edge technologies that are not ready to be sent into space and then develops them to be used in future missions, missions that will help us to discover the Universe, understand our environment, navigate, educate and save lives.

The GSTP has demonstrated itself as a successful and key programme for building know-how and capabilities in the industry, having been recognised by the Participating States as one of the best instruments in ESA to help assure Europe’s competitiveness in the global market, creating jobs and keeping Europe at the forefront of technological innovation.


Key Facts

€102,000 of GSTP contracts leads to 1 additional job

€1 invested through the Programme results, on average, in €3.5 of additional commercial benefits


What does GSTP do?

In space, spare parts and repairs are hard to come by, so any technologies sent into its unforgiving environment must have proven itself on Earth through a series of increasingly more intense tests.

GSTP’s activities bridge this gap between already proven technologies and space missions through the development of engineering models or 'breadboards' whose space-worthiness can be verified in ESTEC's laboratories and test centre. There the budding technologies are subjected to acceleration, temperature or radiation extremes.

GSTP takes technologies through these increasingly more intense tests, all the way up to sending the technology to space on demonstration mission flights in orbit.

These technologies cover every technology readiness level from TRL 3 up, and range from individual components to subsystems right up to complete satellites on the brink of spaceflight or beyond.

GSTP Achievements

Friction stir welding of titanium
Friction stir welding of titanium

Over 25 years GSTP has become the key programme for building expertise and capabilities in industry and, despite being optional, every single one of ESA’s member and associated states has chosen to participate and contribute. Some of the technologies it has supported in that time include:

The GSTP activities cover all ESA domains as well as Generic Technologies, with the exception of Telecommunications which has its own ARTES programme.

The three elements

GSTP Elements Graphic
GSTP Elements Graphic

GSTP performs its activities under three distinct elements: Develop, Make and Fly.

Activities are mostly divided depending on where the technology need originated from.

The Programme also allows for the creation of dedicated ‘Components’ by Participating States to cater for larger projects, i.e. small satellites and larger developments.

These allow States to ring-fence the participation without affecting the States who do not wish to take part in the component’s mission or development.

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