EDUCATION: Call for applications for the ESA spacecraft operations training course until 1 August 2022

ESA Education Training Centre is organising a 4-day training course for university students to learn about the fascinating world of spacecraft operations on 20-23 September 2022 in Belgium. Participation costs: covered!

The Ladybird Guide to Spacecraft Operations Training Course is a technical course without excessive mathematics or technical jargon. The course is suitable for BSc, MSc, and Ph.D. students who want to quickly acquire a feeling for the broad spectrum of disciplines that are part of spacecraft operations.

In addition to the lectures, the students will need to apply their gained knowledge during a challenging group project. The students will also visit ESA’s European space Security and Education Centre (ESEC) and learn about the on-site activities, including Galileo and PROBA spacecraft’s operations.


Students enrolled in university who fulfil the following criteria:

  • aged minimum 18 years old. ESA Academy and relevant partners will only appraise applications from students who have no or limited professional experience in relevant scientific, engineering or other space-related topics;
  • be a citizen of an ESA Member State, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovenia;
  • be enrolled as a Bachelor, Master, or PhD student in a university for the year 2022-2023; Final year students of AY 2021-2022 can apply when they do not graduate before the training course.
  • be studying an engineering subject or physics (with basic knowledge in space technology). 

support available

The selected students will be sponsored by ESA. This will cover accommodation and meals as well as up to 300 Euros for travelling to Belgium.

Upon completion of the training course students will be evaluated via the group project and will receive a certificate of participation and a course transcript, allowing them to request ECTS credit(s) from their respective universities.


  • Fill in the application form;
  • Upload a motivation letter (PDF, maximum 1 page, no images);
  • Upload a CV (PDF, Europass form, no images, maximum 2 pages);
  • Upload a formal recommendation letter (PDF, maximum 1 page, including signature, no images) from a university professor or academic supervisor of current university (if not possible to receive the recommendation letter from your reference, please ask them to send a recommendation email to before the application deadline);
  • Upload a copy of academic records (PDF).

All answers and documents should be in English (except academic records if not available). 

The deadline for applications is 1 August 2022 23:59 CEST.

about the course

Fundamental concepts are covered to give participants a solid foundation of knowledge to become good spacecraft operators
Fundamental concepts are covered to give participants a solid foundation of knowledge to become good spacecraft operators


The course will show students how ‘driving’ a spacecraft is different from designing it. When it comes to spacecraft, it is the launch itself that grabs all the headlines. Once in orbit, we only tend to hear about the satellite again when it returns a great result or a spectacular image. But spacecraft do not take care of themselves on their own.

The unsung heroes of any space mission are the people working in operations. They are the ones who work 24/7 to ensure that the spacecraft is healthy, returning the most data, and functioning at peak efficiency. In addition, these operators diagnose problems with satellites and work out how to make them function properly again.

Taught by an experienced engineer who works for the Operations Department of ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, the course will be delivered through formal lectures but with a heavy emphasis placed on the interaction with the students. 

The way specific sub-systems of a spacecraft like Attitude, Determination and Control Subsystem (ADCS), Orbit Control System (OCS), Power, On Board Data Handling (OBDH), Telemetry, Telecommunication & Control (TT&C), Thermal and On Board Software (OBS), have been designed has a bearing on the way operations are carried out, and this will be highlighted and discussed. The course will include a session on the physiological traps to be avoided during operations and testing.

Real stories of operational staff battling with wayward spacecraft – sometimes winning and sometimes losing – will be used whenever appropriate. “If you want to really understand how a spacecraft works this is the right course. It goes through all the sub-systems in a way that makes you understand the connection between everything on that spacecraft. All in all it is the perfect opportunity for anyone who is interested in working in the space industry,” said an engineering student from Romania who participated in a previous edition of the training course.

University students learn valuable lessons from expert tutors

University students learn valuable lessons from expert tutors


Preliminary schedule

Day 1  Introduction - the difference between design and operations engineers 
 Mission design and payloads
 Attitude Dynamic and Control Subsystems
Day 2  Orbit Control System
 Group Work
Day 3  Thermal
 Telemetry, Telecommunication & Command
 Group Work
Day 4  On Board Data Handling
 On Board Software
 Group Challenge and Summary


For more information, please contact tlp @

Important note

Due to the evolution of the corona virus situation in Europe, and in line with governmental instructions across Europe and with the recommendations of ESA's Director General on travel restrictions for health and safety reasons, the ESA Education Office reserves the right to cancel or change the format (online delivery) of scheduled ESA Academy training sessions.

Source: ESA