human resources

Vacancy 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.

This post is classified A2-A4 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.

ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany  


Optical System Engineer in the Optical Technologies Section, Ground Station Engineering Division, Ground Systems Engineering & Innovation Department, Directorate of Operations.

The Optical Technologies Section provides functional support to ESA projects and carries out technology research (R&D) in optics for ground applications and project management of subsequent operational technology introduction. The Section’s activities cover the development of novel optical ground stations and related optical systems for optical space debris / near Earth object observation, satellite and space-debris laser ranging and momentum transfer, optical (quantum-) communication and optical frequency and timing generation and distribution. 

The Optical Technologies Section is responsible for developing a broad range of technologies addressing optical ground systems, such as telescopes, adaptive optics, free-space laser transmitters, single-photon detectors, time-tagged receivers, high-rate data receivers and fully autonomous optical ground stations.


You will report to the Head of the Optical Technologies Section and will be responsible for the development and engineering activities relating to optical ground stations for surveillance and tracking applications, including optical telescope system design, optical subsystems and project management of operational technology introduction as well as for the following specific tasks:

  • project and technical management of telescope and optical ground station developments, deployment with subsequent handover to operations, in the area of near earth objects and space debris observation in the Space Safety Programme;
  • providing expert technical support and consultancy to ESA projects, programmes and general studies for the development of optical ground instrumentation throughout all project phases, including requirements definition and preparation of tender action documentation;
  • participating in feasibility studies for optical ground instruments, project reviews and the evaluation of procurement proposals;
  • identifying critical development problems and assisting in their resolution;
  • contributing to the definition of technology development roadmaps for the Agency’s technology programmes;
  • defining, initiating and managing R&D activities covering both long- and short-term needs;
  • fostering new application areas for multidisciplinary activities, placing emphasis on innovative concepts, cutting-edge technologies and system architectures;
  • monitoring relevant scientific and technological trends and maintaining state-of-the-art expertise;
  • contributing to the dissemination of the results of technology development activities and the transfer of knowledge within the Agency.

Technical competencies

Several years of experience with optical design verification (e.g. OpticsStudio/ZEMAX), optical performance and data analysis using specific software tools

Knowledge of relevant technologies for the design, manufacturing and testing of optical ground instruments

Knowledge of R&D trends and the industrial landscape in the field of optical instrumentation

Several years of experience in managing and monitoring industrial activities, including participation in reviews

Experience with setting up large industrial projects

Behavioural competencies

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


A Master's degree in optical engineering, physics or another relevant domain is required for this post.

Additional requirements

In order to efficiently manage interdisciplinary teams, a basic knowledge of other engineering areas, such as automation, mechanical, electrical, thermal and materials engineering would be 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 offer and 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.     

The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.

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 email contact.human.resources@esa.int.


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.

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 internal candidates and secondly to external 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. 

Recruitment will normally be at the first grade in the band (A2); however, if the candidate selected has little or no experience, the position may be filled at A1 level.

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.

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Germany, Darmstadt
Posted 9d ago
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