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Head of the Payload Technology Validation Section

European Space Agency

European Space Agency

noordwijk, netherlands
Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2023



Vacancy in the Directorate of Science.


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.



Head of the Payload Technology Validation Section


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



ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands  



The Future Missions Department (SCI-F) is in charge of mission preparation activities for the Science Programmes, including in particular mission definition studies (Phases 0/A/B1) and technology development activities. Within the Future Missions Department, the science payload instrumentation for science missions is partly or fully provided by ESA Member States under the Agency’s overall management.

The Payload Technology Validation Section is in charge of specific mission-oriented validation activities for science missions, aiming to reduce development risks to the payloads in the implementation phase and to support the scientific community in the Member States.


Reporting to the Head of the Science Instrumentation Division (SCI-FI), your responsibilities will include:

  • overall management of the Section’s activities and hardware heritage in accordance with the objectives set by the Head of Division;
  • for future science missions, the detailed definition and timely implementation of mission-specific payload technology validation activities on the ground, relating for example to critical interfaces with the spacecraft or science performance dependence on the sensor degradation induced by radiation damage, required to reduce the mission development risks or enable an implementation decision. The activities are implemented in close coordination with the study team in charge of the mission definition while making the best possible use of existing hardware heritage from previous activities;
  • contributing to elaborating and implementing the Cosmic Vision and Voyage 2050 technology development plans;
  • identifying and elaborating new instrument technologies required for the Science Directorate’s programmes, participating in the elaboration and implementation of the Cosmic Vision and Voyage 2050 technology development plan and performing follow-up of nationally funded activities; 
  • providing payload expertise and support to projects under development as required, for example through participation in reviews and technical support;
  • providing specific support on request for projects under development, such as Ariel, and missions in operation, such as Euclid;
  • providing general support to the Department’s activities: evaluating proposals in response to calls for missions, participating in reviews and providing payload expertise for system studies.

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

Technical Competencies

Experience with science instruments in all phases
Experience in the design, performance analysis, development and testing of various types of space instrumentation and detectors
Experience in dealing with complex space payloads and space science technology development
A well-developed system view and understanding of payload requirements, development needs, knowledge of payload technologies and general space instrumentation
Hands-on experience in payload validation activities

Behavioural competencies

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


A PhD or master’s degree in engineering or applied physics is required. 

Additional requirements

You should, in addition, have:

  • the potential to manage individuals or a diverse team of technicians, engineers and scientists within the Section;
  • the ability to organise individual and team activities and ensure a motivating work environment;
  • strong leadership capabilities, with proven relationship management and communication skills;
  • the ability to drive your team’s performance, developing your people by encouraging learning, delegating responsibility and giving regular and constructive feedback;
  • strong problem-solving skills to deal with day-to-day operational challenges, together with demonstrated planning and organisational skills;
  • a strong result orientation with the ability to set priorities and present practical solutions both orally and in writing;
  • the ability to manage challenging situations proactively and constructively and to be customer-focused.

People management experience is an asset, as is international experience, i.e. outside your home country, as well as experience in diverse functional areas relevant to ESA activities.

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.     

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

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


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. 


In principle, recruitment will be within the advertised grade band (A2-A4). However, if the selected candidate has less than four years of relevant professional experience following the completion of the master’s degree, the position may be filled at A1 level. 

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.