Intern in the Mission Operations Department

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 30 Nov 2022

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

The Mission Operations Department is responsible for the preparation and conducting of flight operations for all ESA missions. For this purpose, the Head of the Mission Operations Department is the primary interface of OPS towards the Programme Directorates. In addition to operational support to ESA customer missions, the Head of Department is responsible for the support to missions of external customers and, in particular, to missions of other space agencies. Operational activities include both spacecraft and related ground segment operations.

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, 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.

For further information visit our web site:

Field(s) of activity for the internship

You can choose between the following topics:

1) Topic 1: Reindeer multi mission development

In the context of the ESA Special Mission Infrastructure Lab Environment ( ) the capability to easily configure and enhance the existing SMILE Ground station Reindeer located in Sweden for a multi mission support. Reindeer is a combined 2m S-Band receive and UHF radio amateur Yagee antenna. This antenna is in the development and shall be prepared for a multi-mission usage. It is currently under configuration for esocs own cube-sat OPS-SAT ( ). The usage shall be enhanced in this internship and programming as well as GNU-Radio flow graphs will be prepared in python as well as an enhancement of the existing scheduler will be prepared.

2) Topic 2: Filter a spectrum out of an open loop recording using SDR

In the context of the ESA Special Mission Infrastructure Lab Environment ( ) the capability to filter a spectrum out of an open loop recording using software defined radio (SDR) for further postprocessing. In the context of SDR relative wideband recordings can be done, which however need then to be post-processed and restricted to the region of interest, to allow further analysis. For this a module needs to implemented and integrated in the overall setup, to efficiently do this processing and store it in an appropriate format for subsequent steps. It is envisaged to base/or integrate it in the GNU Radio setup used in the SMILE environment. The overall setup should be demonstrated with real data from cubesats but it should also demonstrate the rejection of unwanted signals outside the region of interest. Depending on the profile of the candidate a Doppler compensation based on the orbit data would be envisaged as a second step or the detection and first analysis of the signal (e.g. frequency, power, SNR estimation).

3) Topic 3:  SDR/GNU Radio decoding for X-Band OPS-SAT TM

In the context of the ESA Special Mission Infrastructure Lab Environment, the capability to decode OPS-SAT X-Band data on GNU Radio should be developed in a performance-oriented way. The topic could be extended to decode Telemetry of the future mission OPS-SAT-2 that is foreseen to use SCCC adaptive coding and modulation scheme.

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.

Educational knowledge:
1) Topic 1: 

  • Holding a Radio Amateur Certification Class A would be an asset.
  • Programming skills in Python would be an asset.

2) Topic 2:

  • Programming skills in Python would be an asset
  • Knowledge of GNU Radio would be an asset.
  • Knowledge on radio frequency 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 .

Internships can take place remotely, on-site or partially on-site depending on the pandemic situation, and in line with the relevant Establishment’s policy (e.g. possible Green Pass requirement) applicable at the time of starting the internship.


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 and Cyprus as European Cooperating States (ECS).

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