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Earth Explorer Missions Programme Manager


  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location: Noordwijk
  • Grade: Level not specified - Level not specified
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Environment
    • Project and Programme Management
    • Managerial positions
  • Closing Date: Closed


Earth Explorer Missions Programme Manager

Job Requisition ID:  18154
Closing Date:  14 December 2023 23:59 CET/CEST
Establishment:  ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands
Directorate:  Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes
Publication:  Internal & External
Vacancy Type:  Permanent
Date Posted:  16 November 2023


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 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.


ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands  



Reporting to the Head of the Projects Department, you will be responsible for the overall management of approved Earth Explorer missions up to and including launch and in-orbit verification. You may also be asked to manage other missions, such as Earth Watch, on an ad hoc basis.


ESA’s Earth Explorer missions provide an important contribution to the global endeavour to further our understanding of our planet. The Explorers are research missions designed to address key scientific challenges identified by the Earth science community while demonstrating breakthrough technology in observation techniques. This user-driven process of mission selection has given the Earth science community an efficient tool for advancing the understanding of the Earth’s systems. The science questions addressed also form the basis for the development of new applications for Earth observation. The missions are often precursors to future operational missions, such as Aeolus, having demonstrated a new sensing technique, for example. 

The Earth Explorer missions are a complete system, and their development comprises a space segment, a ground segment, the procurement of the launch service and the preparation of operations up to the in-orbit commissioning review, when the mission is transferred to another department within the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.


Your tasks and responsibilities will include:
•    leading teams responsible for the design and implementation of the space segment of approved Earth observation missions under your responsibility, up to and including launch and in-orbit commissioning;
•    providing direction, technical and resource planning and ensuring monitoring of project progress;
•    ensuring and endorsing consolidation of the final programmatic framework of future missions to be implemented under your responsibility, including cost-at-completion, schedule, procurement and geo-return;
•    ensuring that approved mission requirements are implemented within the agreed schedule and in accordance with the established cost-at-completion;
•    monitoring project risks, proposing and implementing mitigation measures;
•    interfacing with industry as required in supporting project teams;
•    interfacing on technical and programmatic issues with Member States;
•    implementing ESA industrial policy for elements under your responsibility;
•    developing and motivating staff members by assessing performance, encouraging learning and development, delegating responsibilities and providing regular and constructive feedback;
•    encouraging synergy across project teams and creating a sense of unity and purpose between teams and across ESA, recognising team successes;
•    dealing effectively with sensitive or difficult situations, liaising with Human Resources as required;
•    ensuring that a long-term strategic view is taken for the Programme, effectively communicating the strategy and vision.

You will be assisted by project managers and by the Project Control, Management Support and System Support functions. You will liaise closely with the Director, other programmes, and departments and offices within the Directorate, drawing on the support of other ESA directorates.

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

Technical competencies

Experience in the management and development of complex space systems
Interaction with European space industry at the highest level, including contract negotiation
Project management, including performance, schedule, financial and risk-related aspects

Behavioural competencies

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


A master’s degree in engineering or physics is required for this post.

Additional requirements

You should also have:
•    the ability to provide strategic direction to individuals and teams and relate team objectives to the overall and evolving organisational goals and context;
•    the ability to anticipate problems, resolve complex issues and relate situations to their context and to support others, such as team members, senior management and other stakeholders, in this process;
•    previous experience of managing managers and of managing a large entity encompassing several teams.

You should, in addition, have:
•    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;
•    excellent cognitive, analytical, delegation, planning and organisational skills.

International experience, i.e. outside your home country, as well as experience in diverse functional areas relevant to ESA activities, is considered 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 offerand 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.

Applicants must be eligible to access technology and hardware which is subject to European and US export control regulations.

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


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.


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. 

This vacancy is now closed.
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