The Directorate provides hands-on engineering skills and specialist expertise to all project teams across the Agency. Specialised teams of all necessary technical disciplines are maintained, along with a suite of technical laboratories plus the ESTEC Test Centre for full-scale spacecraft testing – the largest facility of its kind in Europe.
Most specialists support several projects at around 30% of their time as well as managing R&D projects, in the process ensuring the proper exchange of knowledge between the projects themselves, and between the needs of projects and R&D activities.
Work might be carried out for missions many years in the future. For instance, 2013 saw the testing of candidate solar cells for ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, JUICE, currently projected for launch in 2022.