Earth Observation Research Missions Coordinator

Updated: 5 months ago

Vacancy in the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.

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 A2-A4 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale .

ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands  


You will report hierarchically to the Head of the Earth Explorers programme (EOP-PN) in the Earth Observation Projects Department (EOP-P), Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes (D/EOP).

The Earth Explorers programme is responsible for implementing Earth observation (EO) research missions for the States participating in the various EO programmes. There are different types of Earth Explorer missions, such as EarthCARE, Biomass or Flex, the small satellite-based Scout missions, the operational EarthWatch missions such as Altius or Truths, and potential missions of opportunity performed in cooperation with other major space agencies. Most of these projects are prepared initially by a dedicated department, EO-F  focused in raising the technology and Science readiness level to an acceptable level before transferring them to the Earth Explorers Programme. In order to smooth such a transition and to provide the EOP-F study leaders the right programmatic and technical assumptions for the implementation, a Future EO Research Missions Coordinator has proven to be essential before the formal appointment of a dedicated Project Manager once mission is finally adopted.


You will be responsible for the coordination of all preparation phases of the EO research missions, either directly in the framework of the Earth Watch or third-party missions or indirectly when the preparation phase is managed by the Future Missions and Architecture Department (EOP-F).

Your principal tasks and responsibilities will include:

  • defining the detailed programmatic assumptions of the mission implementation in liaison with all stakeholders;
  • jointly with the other EO departments involved, preparing and supporting the Call for Explorer mission ideas and Scouts;
  • supporting EOP-F in all programmatic assessments relating to cost, schedule, consortium build-up, risk management and instrument pre-development, from candidate selection following the allup to the transfer to the Earth Explorers programme; 
  • supporting and performing critical analysis of science mission requirements vis-a-vis programmatic constraints and establishing effective cooperation with the Mission Advisory Group;
  • preparing, procuring and managing Phase B1 of all Earth Explorer programme missions;
  • preparing the B2/C/D procurement phase of all projects in close coordination with the appointed project manager and securing the handover prior to the contract kick-off, in particular by:
  • coordinating with the Science, Applications and Climate Department (EOP-S) for the specification and procurement of end-to-end simulators, ground processor prototypes and science studies;
  • coordinating with the EO Mission Management and Ground Segment Department (EOP-G) for the definition of requirements, budgets and project plans and the schedule for the implementation.
  • coordinating with the Directorate of Operations (D/OPS) for the overall mission operations, defining requirements and scenarios at early phases and preparing the budget, plan and implementation schedule;
  • driving the preparation of the cost at completion for the overall mission, including operations (FOS/PDGS), support provided by  the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality (D/TEC), EOP-S and EOP-G support and the launcher; 
  • preparing and coordinating the definition of system, operations and product assurance requirements at early phases, applying lessons learned from previous EOP and Agency-wide projects;
  • preparing the Preliminary Project Plan and performing the IPRev if the project manager has not yet been appointed;
  • representing Earth Explorers programme interests in the relevant technological roadmap discussions across the Directorate;
  • supporting EOP-F in all programmatic assessments relating to cost, schedule, consortium build-up and risk management for Phase 0 of EarthWatch, missions of opportunity and third-party missions to be implemented by EOP-PN.

You will lead and coordinate functional support provided from Earth Observation Project Department, Science Department and Mission Management department, specialists from Technology, Engineering and Quality Directorate and from the Operations Directorate, and contractual support from Industry, Procurement and Legal Directorate.

You will also be responsible for identifying, assessing, managing and reporting the health and safety risks in your area of responsibility.

Technical competencies

Background in multidisciplinary space engineering with systems orientation and end-to-end view of Earth Observation missions

Knowledge of industrial cost and schedule drivers

Knowledge of development plans and concrete B2/C/D/E1 experience

Knowledge on technological developments and design maturity

Knowledge of project risk management processes

Knowledge of ESA standard and processes and in particular reviews and procurement processes

Behavioural competencies

Result Orientation
Operational Efficiency
Fostering Cooperation
Relationship Management
Continuous Improvement
Forward Thinking


You should have a master’s degree or an equivalent qualification in an engineering field or a related subject.

Additional requirements

You should, in addition, have:

  • the potential to manage individuals or a team in a project setting;
  • the ability to organise individual and team activities and ensure a motivating work environment;
  • strong leadership capabilities, with proven relationship management and communication skills;
  • the ability to drive your team’s performance, developing your people by encouraging learning, delegating responsibility and giving regular and constructive feedback;
  • strong problem-solving skills to deal with day-to-day operational challenges, together with demonstrated planning and excellent organisational skills;
  • a strong result orientation with the ability to set priorities and present practical solutions both orally and in writing;
  • the ability to manage challenging situations proactively and constructively and to be customer-focused;
  • the ability to establish trustful relationships with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ability to be innovative and creative, particularly in defining new ways to interact with the prime contractor and scientists, organise reviews and allocate activities among team members;
  • the ability to challenge standard plans in order to meet tight cost and schedule targets for development projects;
  • high-impact oral and written communication skills;
  • the ability to anticipate issues through proactive risk management and the capacity to put in place sound and effective solutions rapidly for missions with extremely short timeframes;
  • a sense of autonomy; 
  • a high level of integrity in order to ensure fair competition at all times between the prime bidders and the technology developers;
  • an open mind in order to hold concrete discussions on and balance the science mission requirements and the programmatic constraints.

People management experience is an asset, as is international experience, i.e. outside your home country, as well as experience in diverse functional areas relevant to ESA activities.

You must demonstrate your capacity to manage space system early phases and must have thorough experience of B2/C/D/E1 projects as well as early technological pre-developments. You should be able to set priorities weighed against performance, cost and risk.

Industrial experience in various functional areas relevant to ESA activities is an asset.

Other information

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

For further information please visit: Professionals ,What we offer  and FAQ    

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.     

The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.

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, the United Kingdom and Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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 internal candidates and secondly to external 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. 

In principle, recruitment will be within the advertised grade band (A2-A4). However, if the selected candidate has less than four years of relevant professional experience following the completion of the master’s degree, the position may be filled at A1 level. 

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.

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