Head of On-Board Computers and Data Handling Section - Tenders Global

Head of On-Board Computers and Data Handling Section

European Space Agency


Vacancy in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

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 A2A4 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale .

ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands  


Head of the On-Board Computers and Data Handling Systems Section in the Data Systems, Microelectronics and Component Technology Division, Electrical Department, Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

Reporting to the Head of the Data Systems, Microelectronics and Component Technology Division, the Head of the On-Board Computers and Data Handling Section is responsible for the management of the Section, its resources and activities. In addition, the Head of Section will be required to carry out and to contribute to operational activities within the technical domains of the Section.


Your tasks and responsibilities will include:

  • ensuring a positive and motivating working environment for the Section;
  • managing the workforce of the Section with accountability for all resources and activities delegated to it;
  • maintaining and developing the expertise and technical competence of the Section’s members to meet current and future strategic needs, taking due account of their motivation, aspirations and professional development with appropriate opportunities for laboratory work;
  • distributing and assigning the tasks of the Section to its members, monitoring and managing their performance and providing timely and regular feedback;
  • anticipating and resolving sensitive or difficult situations, liaising with HR as required;
  • negotiating, organising and coordinating the specialist support provided by the Section to ESA projects throughout all phases;
  • organising and coordinating the R&D activities within the technical domains of the Section, in collaboration with other ESA groups such as Competence Domains, TEC sections, R&D offices and ESA projects;
  • preparing resource requirements based on needs originating from both inside and outside the Section and resolving conflicting demands on the use of the resources available in the Section;
  • establishing, developing and maintaining good working relationships and technical networks with users, project groups and other organisational bodies both inside and outside the Agency;
  • contributing to the continuous improvement of working procedures and to the reflection on the evolution of the Section’s role and activities;
  • carrying out and contributing to operational activities within the technical domains of the Section;
  • participating in system reviews of ESA projects as reviewer or panel/review chairperson;
  • managing alerts/IPNs and lessons learned within the Section’s technical purview;
  • managing technical knowledge within the Section;
  • fostering cooperation with industrial stakeholders to organise international technical workshops/conferences.

The Section covers the on-board data handling domain

It is, in particular, responsible for the following:

  • platform and payload data handling and associated higher-level architectures (SAVOIR/ADHA);
  • units such as on-board computers, mass memories, remote terminals/interface units, instrument control/computing/processing units*;
  • digital and analogue signal processing electronics for platform and non-RF payloads;
  • front-end acquisition and processing chain electronics*;
  • on-board interfaces and associated protocols (high and low speed); 
  • platform functions-related data compression, encryption, decryption and data handling system security;
  • end-to-end on-board data processing for platform and non-RF payloads including utilisation of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies, COTS and RadHard/RadTol digital computing technologies.

Within the terms of reference of the Section, you will be responsible for:

  • providing expert technical support and consultancy to all ESA projects, programmes and general studies in the technical domains of the Section, including project reviews;
  • in line with anticipated technology trends and project needs, defining, promoting and implementing the Section’s contributions to ESA technology programmes and R&D activities;
  • supporting higher-level (Division, Department, Competence Domains) technology strategy planning and, based on the Section’s domain of competence, coordinating part of the system requirements being developed under the responsibility of other areas in the Agency;
  • supporting the activities of the relevant Competence Domains; 
  • standardisation activities in the technology domains covered by the Section;
  • maintaining state-of-the-art expertise; 
  • managing the associated laboratory facilities.

*Except for RF payloads

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the on-board data handling domain, you will be expected to establish and maintain good working relationships and networks with experts from other related disciplines in the Directorate. You will also be responsible for identifying, assessing, managing and reporting the health and safety risks in your area of responsibility.

Technical competencies

Knowledge of relevant technical domains

Experience in supporting ESA programmes/projects and knowledge of their technical and programmatic requirements in relevant technical domains

Knowledge of the industrial landscape in relevant technical domains and the ability to define technology development roadmaps identifying future trends in technology requirements

Experience in implementing and driving R&D activities, as well as knowledge of the ESA technology programmes

Resource management experience

Experience in ESA procurement processes and contract management, as well as applied negotiation skills

Behavioural competencies

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


A Master’s in electronics, computer science or telecommunications is required for this post.

Additional requirements

Solid industrial experience related to the technical domains of the Section is required, as well as experience in the definition of technology R&D strategy. Applicants should also have substantial experience in relevant fields of design and technology development.

Candidates are required to have excellent time management abilities, both for themselves and in the wider context of managing the team.

You should also have:

  • the potential to manage individuals or a team of experts in a project or R&D setting and the ability to prioritise and organise their activities;
  • 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;
  • strong results 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;
  • the ability to represent the Agency in interfaces with industry and government agencies.

Previous people management experience would be an asset, as would international experience, i.e. outside your home country, and experience in diverse functional areas relevant to the activities of ESA.

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 [email protected] .


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.

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