Young Graduate Trainee in Ground Stations Operations of Small Missions (SMILE)

Updated: 3 months ago

Young Graduate Opportunity in the Directorate of Operations

ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. We therefore welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from women are encouraged.

This post is classified F1 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale .


ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany 

Our team and mission

As part of the Mission Operations Department, the Ground Facilities Operations Division manages, operates and maintains infrastructure used to support operations of ESA and external missions. Facilities include Telemetry, Tracking & Command (TT&C) stations belonging to ESA’s ground station network (ESTRACK), the Operations Control Centre at ESOC and Mission Operations Technical IT.

The Division is responsible for management of the Special Mission Infrastructure Laboratory Environment (SMILE), a flexible mission control and validation facility located at ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Comprising an operational control lab and several ground station antennas, SMILE supports ESA internal users as well as universities, research institutes and companies prototyping, testing and validating innovative operations concepts and technologies. Typical users benefitting from access to SMILE facilities and services are:

  • CubeSats and small spacecraft manufacturers and operators;
  • ground station software and hardware developers;
  • ground segment service providers.

You are encouraged to visit the ESA website: /smile

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

The main objective of this activity is to support the preparation and conducting of ground facilities operations with a particular focus on small satellite missions.

As a YGT, you will be assigned to the team responsible for operations, maintenance and evolution of the SMILE facilities. You will review, maintain and evolve procedures, tools and other systems used in the operations and promotion of SMILE. You will be responsible for the daily operations of the relevant facilities in support of ESA and external customers missions, typically in the areas of small satellites and CubeSats.

You will be supporting the evolution of SMILE facilities and services, including automation of tracking activities as well as the definition and testing of novel concepts such as optical communication and autonomous ground station scheduling.

Technical competencies

Knowledge of relevant technical domains

Relevant experience gained during internships/project work

Breadth of exposure coming from past and/or current research/activities

Knowledge of ESA and its programmes/projects

Behavioural competencies

Result Orientation

Operational Efficiency

Fostering Cooperation

Relationship Management

Continuous Improvement

Forward Thinking


You should have just completed, or be in the final year of your Master’ s degree in a technical or scientific discipline.

Additional requirements

You should have good interpersonal and communication skills and should be able to work in a multicultural environment, both independently and as part of a team.

The following is considered as desirable qualification:

  • knowledge of programming languages, e.g. python;
  • possession of radio-amateur licence;
  • knowledge of virtual private networks and/or administration of virtual machines.

The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required. Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset.

During the interview motivation and overall professional perspective/career goals will also be explored.

Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework .

For further information on the Young Graduate Programme please visit: Young Graduate Programme andFAQ Young Graduate Programme

At the Agency we value diversity and we welcome people with disabilities. Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace. The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance during the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss this further please contact us email [email protected] .


Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Nationals from Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as  Associate Member States, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus as European Cooperating States (ECS).

According to the ESA Convention, the recruitment of staff must take into account an adequate distribution of posts among nationals of the ESA Member States*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to candidates from under-represented Member States *. 

In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment conducted by an external background screening service. 

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.

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