Internal Research Fellow in 5G/6G Non-Terrestrial Networks Design, Implementation and Security

Updated: about 1 month ago

Internal Research Fellowship Opportunity in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

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

The Internal Research Fellow position will be shared between the Systems Security Engineering Section (TEC-ESS) and the Telecom Systems Section (TEC-ESC) in the Radio Frequency Systems Division, Electrical Department, Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

This post is classified F2 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale .

ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands  

Our team and mission

The Radio Frequency Systems Division is responsible for space instrumentation and end-to-end communication systems, subsystems, and equipment and technologies, covering the following:

  • Telecommunications system and subsystem design and validation.
  • Radio navigation system and subsystem design and validation.
  • Commercial ground and user segment products for navigation, telecommunications and remote sensing.
  • Systems for tracking, telemetry and command (TT&C) and payload data transmission (PDT) for communication, navigation, remote sensing and scientific applications.
  • Security engineering, research and development in all of the above areas, and in general for any space applications, projects and missions.
  • Systems testing for performance evaluation and validation.
  • Laboratories to test/prove the soundness of concepts and validate them.

This position will be shared between the Systems Security Engineering Section (TEC-ESS) and the Telecom Systems Section (TEC-ESC).

TEC-ESS is responsible for the security engineering processes, techniques and technologies dealing with the security of systems from the end-to-end point of view, as well as the subsystems, the elements and equipment contributing or implementing specific detection/mitigation and protection measures, and the analysis and methodology for vulnerability assessments and standards, including system design tools and equipment. TEC-ESS provides functional support to ESA projects in the area of system security engineering and cyber security and carries out technological research and development (R&D) in the field of security for space systems and missions. 

TEC-ESC is responsible for satcom system architectures and end-to-end communication systems, subsystems, equipment and technologies, covering in particular the following fields of technical competence:

  • End-to-end performance analysis and follow-up of equipment design for critical communication aspects of satellite missions.
  • Satellite access techniques.
  • Networking, traffic engineering, protocol design and verification.
  • Modulation, coding, synchronisation and signal processing techniques.
  • Wideband digital techniques required by next generation satcom.
  • Software tools for system and subsystem theoretical analysis and simulation.
  • Economic evaluation and risk hedging of communications satellite missions.

You are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

The rollout and adoption of fifth generation (5G) mobile networks has dominated the telecommunications sector in recent years. New advances in 5G standards are creating opportunities to integrate non-terrestrial networks (NTN) into an interoperable, standardised wireless experience across the globe. 5G technology is expected to benefit IRIS² (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite), the new EU secure satellite constellation that aims to offer enhanced communication capacities to governmental users and businesses, while ensuring high-speed internet broadband to cope with connectivity dead zones. While 5G NTN standardisation is still evolving, various aspects related to secure development and deployment still need to be explored.

As an Internal Research Fellow at the Radio Frequency Systems Division/Systems Security Engineering Section, you will have the unique opportunity to work on cutting-edge research on 5G/6G systems in general and 5G/6G NTN in particular, contributing to the related ongoing standardisation efforts and helping shape the future of modern, space satellite communications.

In particular, your research activities will be to: 

  • monitor the latest standards on 5G/6G NTN and the relevant R&D to assess the related security across all layers, while identifying and proposing solutions.
  • perform, in a laboratory setting, experimentation and testing of various implementations to confirm the exploitation of identified security issues, identify their impact, and verify the effectiveness of the proposed security countermeasures.
  • contribute to proposals for standardisation to the relevant forums.
  • monitor current developments and implementations on the topic.

Technical competencies

Knowledge relevant to the field of research

Research/publication record

Ability to conduct research autonomously

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

Ability to gather and share relevant information

Behavioural competencies

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


You should have recently completed or be close to completing a PhD in telecommunications (preferably on 5G).
Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates who have received their PhD within the past five years.

Additional requirements
  • Good knowledge and understanding of security aspects, potential attacks and countermeasures in modern telecommunication systems
  • Knowledge of modern applied cryptography
  • Programming capabilities 
  • General interest in space and space research

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 .

For further information on the Internal Research Fellowship Programme please visit: Internal Research Fellowship

The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.

In addition to your CV and your motivation letter, please add your proposal of no more than 5 pages outlining your proposed research in the "additional documents" field of the "application information" section.

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 [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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