Research & Innovation - Participant Portal

H2020-LEIT-Space-Competitiveness of the European Space Sector-2014

Opening Date 11-12-2013 Deadline Date 26-03-2014 17:00:00 (Brussels local time)
Publication date 11-12-2013 Total Call Budget €53,040,000
Programme Horizon 2020
Status Closed Main Pillar Industrial Leadership
OJ reference OJ C 361 of 11.12.2013

Topic: In-Space electrical propulsion and station keeping COMPET-03-2014

Specific challenge: Advances in-Space propulsion beyond the use of chemical technologies will enable a much more competitive development and exploitation of Space systems. The challenge is to enable major advances in electric propulsion for in-space operations and transportation, and guarantee the leadership of European capabilities in electric propulsion at world level within the 2020-2030 timeframe. The objective is to propose a Programme Support Activity (PSA), for the future implementation of a Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) in Horizon 2020. The overall budget for such an SRC could be in the range of several tens of millions of euros and should achieve a full in-orbit validation of the electric propulsion systems developed at pre-commercial level during the SRC. This validation is to be achieved not later than 2023.

Further information on the concept of a Strategic research cluster in Horizon 2020 is available from

Scope: In-Space transportation begins where the launch vehicle upper stage separates. It comprises the functions of primary propulsion, reaction control, station keeping, precision pointing, and orbital manoeuvring necessary for all satellites.

Some of these technologies will be used in commercial and governmental communications satellites for orbit positioning and station-keeping. Further development is needed to maintain European leadership in this domain which is threatened by a very strong competition of non-European actors aiming at proposing all-electric platforms. Research and development of promising electric propulsion technologies, far beyond the current state of the art, is encouraged. The Power Processing Units (PPU) for the electrical thrusters will be considered as well. A first objective for the SRC is to foster incremental advances in the development of thrusters by extending their specifications and operative ranges by a factor of at least 3, including advanced studies in the areas of new power concepts, architectures and associated advanced technologies. A second objective is to set up activities for promoting possible disruptive RTD in the field of in-space electrical propulsion, including the increase of electric power for propulsion.    

In order to assess the commercial viability of the technologies developed, the proposal should envisage studying the impact of using electrical thrusters in several types of generic platforms. Examples of these are: propulsive modules of interorbital vehicles (as tugs for contribution to in-orbit services), transfer of different payloads towards deep space, GTO transfer for communication satellites, and orbit control. To validate the electrical thrusters to be developed at pre-commercial level during the SRC, a qualification flight will have to be executed not later than 2023. This will serve as a validation for future mission implementation.

Alternative approaches, not already planned for development by other entities are encouraged.

The Commission considers that one proposal requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: The initial expected life of the PSA action is 5 years. In this time, the consortium should have delivered: 

·         Collection and consolidation of requirements for future electric propulsion thrusters from European satellite primes

·         Survey of available European electric propulsion technology and its technological readiness level

·         Identification and definition of all the activities required to address the challenge of this topic. The contents of the activities must be in agreement with the objectives and boundaries defined in the scope.

·         A fully detailed master plan to coordinate all the activities for the whole duration of the SRC.

·         A plan for the analysis and evaluation of the results during the execution of the activities within the SRC.

·         A plan for the specific exploitation and potential use of the SRC expected outputs.

·         A risk assessment and contingency analysis for the SRC.

The execution of the SRC during a first period of 5 years will assure reaching the TRL-6[1] in the future devices that will form the next-generation of European electrical space thrusters. The goal at the end of the SRC will be to guarantee the leadership of European capabilities in electric propulsion at world level within the 2020-2030 timeframe.

Type of action: Coordination and support action

[1] Technology Readiness Levels are defined in part G of the General Annexes. In the specific area of space, further details can be found in the European Space Agency website "Strategic Readiness Level - The ESA Science Technology Development Route". European Space Agency, Advanced Studies and Technology Preparation Division,

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application. An additional guidance document specific to this topic is available on the 'Call documents' page.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.

  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme, with the following exceptions: the Commission will only fund one project under this topic.

    3.2 Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.
  5. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:
    Maximum 5 months from the final date for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 3 months from the date of informing successful applicants.
  6. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    Coordination and Support Action:

    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Standard proposal template (administrative forms and structure of technical annex)
    Standard evaluation form
    Annotated Model Grant Agreement
    Additional attachment to the proposal template on the preliminary strategic design "Strategic Design SCR" should be based on the guidelines provided in the 'Call Documents' page.
  7. Additional provisions:

    Horizon 2020 budget flexibility

    Classified information

    Technology readiness levels (TRL)

  8. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.


Additional documents

You can download the same documents as one zip file from the call page

  • H2020-COMPET-2014_Flash Call Info en
  • Legal basis - Specific Programme H2020 en
  • WP H2020 - 1. Introduction en
  • WP H2020 - 5. Introduction to Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (LEITs) en
  • WP H2020 - 5iii. Space en
  • WP H2020 - 17. Communication and Dissemination en
  • WP H2020 - 19. General Annexes en
  • Legal basis - Framework Programme H2020 en
  • Legal basis - Rules for Participation en
  • COMPET-1-2014_EC-ESA-EDA-List of Urgent Actions for 2012/2013 for use with FP7 call for proposals FP7-SPACE-2013-1 en
  • COMPET-1-2014_EC-ESA-EDA-List of Urgent Actions for 2012/2013 Update for the 2014 Call of Horizon 2020 en
  • COMPET-3&4-2014_Guidelines for Strategic Research Clusters en

No submission system is open for this topic.