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Optical Instrument Principal Engineer

European Space Agency

European Space Agency

noordwijk, netherlands
Posted on Monday, November 20, 2023


Vacancy in the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.


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 is a non-renewable post for a limited duration until 31 December 2027 and is classified A2-A4 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.


This opportunity is open for the specific needs of a National Project. Accordingly, the external candidate selected for this post will continue to be considered an external candidate for the purposes of any future applications to the Agency.


ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands 


We are recruiting for the position of Optical Instrument Principal Engineer for the Polish National Earth Observation Mission (CAMILA).


On all technical and programmatic matters, you will report to the Project Manager of the assigned National Mission.


You will be technically responsible for the definition, development, implementation, verification, calibration and validation of the instruments in compliance with the associated requirements and interfaces.

You will be required to work in close cooperation with the spacecraft and mission performance and PDGS engineers to ensure instrument compatibility with external interfaces and the level-0 performance requirements. You will support the Project Manager on all technical and programmatic aspects pertinent to the instrument’s scope.


Your tasks and responsibilities will include:


  • monitoring industrial activities related to the procurement of the instrument and associated ground support equipment (GSE), in particular critical subsystems, ensuring suitable planning and progress of work;
  • consolidating and maintaining instrument requirements, ensuring their consistent definition and flow-down to system, subsystem and equipment level, with support from the engineers of the corresponding disciplines and the industrial consortium;
  • supervising the overall instrument definition process, ensuring a robust architecture and that its design and interfaces are established in a consistent and cost-effective manner;
  • monitoring and controlling performance evolution at overall level down to lower levels, ensuring requirements are met at instrument and system level during all programme phases up to the instrument flight acceptance review;
  • monitoring and controlling the correct implementation of the instrument development and its assembly, integration, testing and verification process (i.e. AIV/AIT) from equipment and subsystem level, consistent with spacecraft-level verification, and coordinating the instrument Verification Control Boards;
  • ensuring suitable support for the instrument prime contractor during instrument integration phases with the platform and during the spacecraft verification process up to the flight acceptance review of all eight spacecraft;
  • ensuring the timely development and maintenance of models, GSE, simulators, tools and documentation, including the necessary characterisation databases and key data, required for the definition of technical instrument budgets and the evaluation of instrument performance;
  • supervising the definition of the instrument characterisation, calibration and validation approach and the execution of related activities on-ground and preparation for in-orbit up to instrument flight acceptance review;
  • working with other project members and coordinating the technical specialists to ensure timely and consistent support through the instrument definition, procurement and verification phases;
  • providing regular reporting and support to the Project Manager on all the relevant aspects of the instrument design, development, procurement and scheduling;
  • identifying risks and potential problem areas, proposing mitigation actions where appropriate;
  • ensuring the coordination with other National Programmes (where applicable).

Technical competencies

Multidisciplinary knowledge of area of responsibility
Knowledge and experience in optical design, development, AIT/AIV and calibration for Earth observation optical instruments
Knowledge and experience in optical instrument performance and verification
Experience of managing technical interfaces between subsystems both within the ESA project team environment and for the industrial consortium
Medium-complexity project schedule and risk management processes

Behavioural competencies

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


A master's in a relevant scientific or engineering discipline is required.

Additional requirements

Consolidated experience in optical instrument engineering and experience in the field of spaceborne optical instrument design and procurement.


You should also:


  • have a high level of self-motivation and autonomy;
  • have the capability to work effectively in an interdisciplinary team;
  • demonstrate flexibility in dealing with day-to-day operational challenges.


Knowledge of the following would be considered a strong asset:


  • ESA and industrial procurement processes and standards for space system development, verification and product assurance;
  • the technical and programmatic characteristics and challenges specific to space system constellations.

​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.


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


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. 


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.