Intern in the ESTRACK Stations and Infrastructure Section

Updated: 3 months ago

Internship 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.


Our team and mission

This position is based at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) - Darmstadt, Germany

Our teams control spacecraft in orbit, manage ESA’s global ground station network and develop mission control software and techniques. Together these comprise the ‘Mission Operations Infrastructure’ which is a key strategic asset for ESA and its Member States – and is unique in Europe. We oversee the design and development of tailor-made systems on the ground that support missions in space, working with industry to provide innovative, multi-mission solutions for the future.

The ESTRACK Stations & Infrastructure Section
The section is responsible for the operations and maintenance of the ESTRACK stations and its supporting site infrastructures, the related ESTRACK Monitoring & Control facilities at the ESTRACK Control Centre (ECC) and the management of the ESTRACK operational lifecycle. 

ESA's tracking station network – ESTRACK – is a global system of ground stations providing links between satellites in orbit and ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. The core ESTRACK network comprises seven stations in seven countries. 

The essential task of all ESA ground tracking stations is to communicate with spacecraft, transmitting commands and receiving scientific data and spacecraft status information.

Our technically advanced stations can track spacecraft almost anywhere – circling Earth, watching the Sun, orbiting at the scientifically crucial Sun-Earth Lagrange points or voyaging deep into our Solar System.

For further information visit our web site:

Field(s) of activity for the internship

You can choose between the following topics:

1) Topic 1: Maintenance of Ground Stations Infrastructure

The main objective of this activity is to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the maintenance of the ground stations.

As an intern, you will have to focus on Power Generation Systems, HVAC systems and Antenna mechanical systems (servo, gearbox) initially. You will be asked to review existing maintenance procedures and schedules, to compare them between stations and equivalent systems and to assess them against the manufacturer’s recommendations when available. He/she shall propose optimization/harmonization where deemed necessary. The usage of spare parts shall also be analyzed in order to optimize stock value and identify trends that could indicate abnormal wear and tear. Currently, to monitor the maintenance activities and the stations’ equipment, the Section relies on a database (ECDB: Estrack Configuration Database). You will be asked to critically review the current processes and make proposals for its evolution also participating in the ECDB evolution working groups.   Finally, you will be asked to study the possibility to develop a predictive maintenance program by identifying systems and parameters where such approach could make sense, by proposing a non-intrusive measurement approach and an implementation plan.


2) Topic 2: Harmonization and Improvement of Processes at the Ground Stations

In order to have more efficient operations of the Ground Stations, the Section is pursuing several avenues, in particular, the harmonization of the processes, the implementation of “Green” initiatives and the usage of modern technologies such as Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality.
The Intern will be asked to support the Site Infrastructure Engineer in those aspects. 

Background information:

In 2019 and in 2022, two workshops have been organized by the Section. The objective of the workshops was to gather representatives of all the ESTRACK Ground Stations and to discuss the various processes in ESTRACK in order to harmonize them.

The processes discussed were:

  • ECDB (Estrack Configuration Data Base)
  • ETMM (Estrack Test and Maintenance Manual)
  • HSSE (Health, Safety, Security and Environment)
  • IMTE (Inspection, Measuring and Test Equipment)
  • SPT (Station Performance Test)

Proposed Activity

The main objective of this activity is to reduce as much as possible the number of open actions derived from the previous workshops. To this effect, as an intern, you will have to:

  • Organise with each “Leader” a series of meetings in order to review the status of the each action.
  • Select the most important action(s) under each topic
  • Make concrete proposals for the closure of the actions.
  • Discuss the proposals with representatives of the other stations in order to reach a consensus with regard to the next steps.

The intern will have to work in close cooperation with the Site Infrastructure Engineer and the various Station Managers/Engineers.

A second objective of this activity is to support the Site Infrastructure Engineer in organizing the third session foreseen to take place in summer 2024 at the Santa Maria station.

Green Initiatives

The objective of this activity is to identify and analyze various initiatives (solar panels, rainwater collection, wind turbines, etc…) that could be implemented in the ground stations to reduce their environmental impact. 

Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality

The Intern will be asked to participate in studies that have already been started, for example for the remote maintenance of Ground Stations, but also to propose case studies that could be beneficial for the operations of the Ground Stations by improving the accessibility to information and/or support.


3) Topic 3: Ground Stations Monitoring and Control System Testing

As an intern, you will participate in the acceptance of a new Monitoring and Control System based on the European Ground Operations System Common Core. The software will be deployed in the ground stations, starting with the ground station of Kourou in French Guiana. The test and validation activities will mostly take place from the Ground Stations Reference Facility on Darmstadt, Germany via a remote connection. 

The monitoring and control system is the top level software that orchestrates all activities of the equipment in the ground stations.  You will be responsible for helping booking the test slots in the scheduling system of ESTRACK, to prepare test plans based on previously agreed test scenarios, to attend the tests and to take notes and consolidate reporting and tracking of issues. Testing, reporting and tracking of issues is based on the Jira software. 

Behavioural competencies

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


You must have student status and be enrolled at university for the entire duration of the internship. You should preferably be in your final or second to last year of a university course at master’s level in a technical or scientific discipline.

Additional requirements

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.

Other information

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

If you require support with your application due to a disability, please 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).

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