Mars Exploration Group Leader

Noordwijk, The Netherlands, ESA [10285]

Field(s) of expertise
Aerospace Engineering Space Systems Engineering
Job type

About this job

ESA is looking for a Mars Exploration Group Leader.


Reporting to the Director of Human and Robotic Exploration and as a member of the Directorate’s Management Team, the Mars Exploration Group Leader (equivalent to Head of Department role) will be responsible for all Martian project developments undertaken by HRE, including completion of the ExoMars programme in cooperation with Roscosmos and all Mars Sample Return projects (Earth Return Orbiter, Sample Fetch Rover, Sample Transfer Arm) in cooperation with NASA/JPL.


• Leading and motivating a group of project teams for the concurrent development of two programmes with destination Mars comprising ExoMars and the three ESA contributions to Mars Sample Return (ERO, SFR, STA);
• Delivering the projects to performance and to schedule within the allocated budget;
• Implementing the cooperation agreements signed with Roscosmos (ExoMars) and with NASA/JPL (Mars Sample Return) and maintaining harmonious relationships with these agencies;
• Reflecting in the work the wider ESA exploration strategy, drawing on contractual relationships with European industry and on strategic partnerships with other space agencies;
• Contributing to the Directorate meeting its commitments to Member States regarding geographical return and industrial policy;
• Reporting progress internally and to participating-State delegations at programme boards;
• Enhancing ESA’s positive reputation in space exploration and strengthening the relationship between ESA and other global agencies as an enabler for further cooperation;
• Managing the allocated human and financial resources of the Group, developing and motivating individuals by assessing the performance of direct reports, encouraging learning and development, by delegating responsibilities and by providing regular, constructive feedback;
• Creating and maintaining a trustful relationship with the E3P participating States;
• Securing the interests of the European scientific community in the exploitation of the missions including samples to be returned by MSR;
• Maintaining close and harmonious relationships between D-HRE and D-OPS (operations), D-SCI (mission science) and D-TEC (technical support).


Technical competencies

• Identifying key priorities and urgent issues within a complex and broad perimeter of responsibility;
• Delivery of complex projects within cost and schedule;
• Experience in ESA procurement processes and contract management as well as applied negotiation skills;
• Interaction with European space industry at the highest level;
• Technical and contract negotiation and being able to secure win/win outcomes;
• Complex project risk management processes;
• Ability to brief senior decision makers under crisis conditions;
• Highly experienced in spacecraft development projects;
• Possessing strong problem-solving skills to deal with day-to-day operational challenges, together with demonstrated planning and organisational skills.
• Leading change, for example in optimising directorate and wider processes to deliver

Frequent missions may be required to lead industry premises in Europe; to Roscosmos and Lavochkin in Moscow; and to NASA/JPL in the US.

NOTE: Given the current covid-19 situation, teleworking may also apply for part of the work, including a reduction in physical travelling.


A Master’s degree in a science or engineering discipline is required.

For a complete job description and to apply, click on “apply”.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 9 September 2020.


If you require support with your application due to a disability, please 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 and Slovenia.

We offer

The European Space Agency (ESA) is an equal opportunities employer that offers competitive salaries exempt from national income tax and excellent employment conditions, such as allowances for expatriates and relocation support.
For more information: http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA

About us

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA is an international organisation with 22 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
Learn more: http://www.esa.int/

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