Head of the Future Missions and Architecture Department

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: Permanent
Deadline: 12 Sep 2022

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 A6 of the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.

ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands  


The Head of the Future Missions and Architecture Department reports to the Director of Earth Observation Programmes and is responsible for defining and preparing future Earth Observation systems, technologies and architectures. You will be responsible for the preparatory activities for future missions in general, studies relating to future Earth Observation architectures, missions and instruments, and the Agency’s Earth Observation future technologies activities. You will also be responsible for investigating new and prospective domains in Earth Observation, including innovative methods and technologies, and preparing them for use or further development in other departments, directorates, or with external partners. In synergy with European, national, and commercial Earth observation programmes, you will fulfil ESA’s Earth Observation System Architect role by establishing an end-to-end system (of systems) view of ESA’s Earth Observation activities and their potential evolution, supporting the Director in the creation and renewal of the Directorate’s vision and strategy. You will provide the Director with neutral advice in the mission and technology domains.


Your duties will include:

  • developing an overall reference architecture for European Earth observation systems via consultation with mission authorities of ESA Member States, EU and EUMETSAT, as well as scenarios for its future evolution taking into account new technologies and applications and the emergence of commercial systems, including New Space activities;
  • defining the system requirements for all future ESA Earth Observation missions during their preparation as input to their implementation;
  • implementing preparatory phases of EO missions;
  • implementing pre-development activities for risk reduction in future Earth Observation instruments and missions;
  • preparing requirements for advanced technologies in the domain of Earth observation;
  • exploring new domains for Earth observation, continuously seeking out innovation with an active external network to gather information and by benchmarking against other organisations, including the preparation of demonstrators and showcases to support funding decisions;
  • developing ground and airborne instruments and defining campaign needs;
  • coordination with other ESA programme directorates on topics of common interest and representing the Directorate in the framework of the end-to-end process for technology development;
  • conducting the activities related to the space segment of the InCubed Earth Watch programme element;
  • developing, maintaining and sharing across EOP the core competences in Earth observation techniques, in particular through a pool of instrument and mission design specialists, the consolidation of tools for mission and instrument sizing and design and the promotion of future missions and technologies via digital media, for example;
  • addressing Earth observation frequency management issues.

You will actively work to ensure the well-being, motivation, training and career progression of the Department workforce, incentivising a spirit of initiative, transparency, information flow and coordination with other departments and directorates. You will liaise with external entities (Member State delegations, industry (space and non-space), academia, international partners, stakeholder organisations) to promote and develop ESA EO activities.

Technical competencies

Broad knowledge of scientific discipline, including strategic vision of the area Earth

Science Knowledge & understanding of the Agency's core business

Knowledge of EO technical domains and related R&D space industry trends

Knowledge of relevant strategic and technological trends and developments, both inside and outside the space domain, and their potential impact on the activities of the Department

Knowledge of the European and international space sector (institutional, commercial and/or industrial)

Behavioural competencies

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


A master’s degree in a relevant engineering discipline is required for this post.

Additional requirements

You have a successful track record in managing space programmes, preferably in an international context, and in fostering innovation.

In addition, you should have:

  • proven experience of leading, motivating and developing a team;
  • the ability to provide strategic direction to the individuals and teams within the Department and to relate team objectives to the overall, evolving organisational goals and context;
  • the ability to drive performance and foster cooperation within and across teams throughout the organisation;
  • demonstrated excellent leadership, relationship management and communication skills, both oral and written;
  • a proven track record of representing the Agency’s interests to external interfaces;
  • excellent cognitive, analytical, delegation, planning and organisational skills;
  • the ability to anticipate problems, solve complex issues and relate situations to their context;
  • the ability to reach solution-oriented, pragmatic and timely decisions of a high standard and with integrity as well as to support others (team members, upper management, other stakeholders) in this process.

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.

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.  

Please note that applicants may be required to undergo psychometric testing and other assessments.  

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 at contact.human.resources@esa.int .


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 and Slovenia.

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. 

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