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Intern in the Mission Operations Department


  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location: Darmstadt
  • Grade: Internship - Internship
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Operations and Administrations
  • Closing Date: 2022-11-30


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.


The GAIA and OPS-SAT Mission Operations Unit is responsible for the operations of the GAIA mission and the OPS-SAT Space Lab. The candidate will be working for as part of the OPS-SAT Space Lab but will also get the opportunity to interact with the GAIA mission control team. The OPS-SAT Space Lab is responsible for all the OPS-SAT missions from concept, design, development, launch and operations. We presently have one flying spacecraft and several in the early stages of design as part of the lab. The spacecraft are all nanosatellites and comprise powerful, open, reconfigurable laboratories in space. The missions are primarily operated via a ground station located on site at ESOC which is part of the SMILE infrastructure. Each mission has a unique theme (e.g. OPS-SAT VOLT’s theme is optical and quantum communication). On the other hand, GAIA is a large cornerstone ESA Science mission, tasked with detecting and accurately mapping the positions of 1 billion stars to unprecedented accuracy. Gaia was launched in December 2013 and is operated in an L2 Lissajous orbit, 1.5 million kms from Earth. Data is downlinked through daily contact with ground using an X-band GMSK link with a rate of up to 650Gbits/day.


For further information visit our web site:

Field(s) of activity for the internship

Topic: OPS-SAT Space Lab Experimenter Support and Operations


As an intern, you will support the OPS-SAT Space Lab at ESOC helping the many experiments planned to fly on OPS-SAT (launched in 2019). There are many experimenters ranging from other space agencies such as CNES and DLR, to big primes such as Airbus down to university departments and start-ups. ESA has to support the experimenters helping them get familiar with the OPS-SAT on-board environment and how to control the many sensors, actuators, camera, software defined radio and FPGA. The student will provide this support directly interacting with the experimenters and arranging tests of their experiments through the various parts of the lifecycle and finally supervising the tests on the real spacecraft.

Through these activities, you will be exposed to many of the important domains making up mission control and many of these institutions and companies.

More information:

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: Proven experience in software development (Linux, Python and C/C++ especially) is essential and experience in programming FPGAs 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).

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.