Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : SRC – In-Space electrical propulsion and station keeping

Topic identifier: SPACE-13-TEC-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
16 October 2018
Deadline: 12 March 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Industrial Leadership
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

The challenge of this strategic research cluster (SRC) is to enable major advances in Electric Propulsion (EP) for in-space operations and transportation, in order to contribute to guarantee the leadership through competitiveness and non-dependence of European capabilities in electric propulsion at world level within the 2020-2030 timeframe, always in coherence with the existing and planned developments at national, commercial and ESA level. The specific challenge of this action is to enable faster maturation of promising disruptive thruster concepts and technologies, as a necessary step towards demonstration actions. The detailed challenges are elaborated in the guidelines document 'EPIC Roadmap'[1]


A disruptive electric propulsion technology is a technology that disrupts a status quo in the space sector. It could replace the dominant technology by providing radical improvements in performance or costs which are perceived as valuable by a customer or part of the market, or it opens up new opportunities not possible with the incumbent technology. Emerging technologies that are potentially ‘disruptive’ often underperform compared to the dominant technology in early development phases – the underlying physics may not be fully understood for example and more R&D is required to properly ascertain performance attributes. Examples can be: disruptive improvement of performances, enabling of new operational scenarios, reducing costs of the full system etc.

Proposals shall cover one of the following two subtopics:

  • Thruster concepts or technologies for disruptive electric propulsion systems such as Helicon Plasma Thrusters (HPT), Electron Cyclotron Resonance plasma thrusters (ECR), Magneto Plasma Dynamic thrusters (MPD), Pulsed Plasma Thrusters (PPT), micro-propulsion electric thrusters, or any other innovative electric thruster concepts and relevant technologies for disruptive electric propulsion systems.
  • Transversal concepts and technologies for disruptive electric propulsion systems, such as power condition electronics, direct drive, magnetic nozzles, alternative propellants, testing techniques, materials.

Proposals may target any part of the technology readiness levels (TRL) scale, in particular:

  • Breakthrough technologies starting at low or very low TRL (<4), aiming to promote promising and potentially disruptive thrusters concepts in the field of Electric Propulsion. This should allow increasing of the current TRL, which in the long term could change the Electric Propulsion landscape.
  • Promising technologies starting at higher TRL (≥4) in the field of Electric Propulsion, enabling significant improvements of Electric Propulsion system performances, cost and fit to the market. The objective here is to allow to efficiently and effectively increase the TRL. Proposal for higher TRL should include the best possible combination of a market analysis and an application impact analysis.

Proposals shall include a market analysis detailing the targeted applications and the specific key advantages of the proposed technology. Every disruptive effect shall be specifically correlated with its final application

Proposals shall not be based on technology lines mentioned in the call topic COMPET-3-2016-a for incremental EP technologies[2].

The involvement of post-graduate scientists, engineers and researchers is encouraged, for example through professional work experience or through fellowships/scholarships as applicable.

The Commission considers that proposals for the disruptive technologies requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 1 million for activities starting from TRL < 4 and of EUR 1 to 2 million for activities starting from TRL ≥ 4 would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:
  • To promote and accelerate the development of potentially breakthrough EP or EP-related concepts and technologies in order to be able to provoke a disruption in the propulsion landscape in the medium to long-term.
  • To foster the necessary long term evolutions needed to provide Europe with competitive and innovative electric propulsion products in order to maintain the European capacity to compete in the worldwide arena of electric propulsion satellites.
  • To enable the identification and targeting of future markets and applications which are not yet addressed by the current well-established products or their expected improvements.


[2]Hall Effect Thrusters (HET); Gridded Ion Engines (GIE); High Efficiency Multistage Plasma Thrusters (HEMPT)

Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.


No beneficiaries of the grant agreement EPIC (640199) will participate in consortia of proposals submitted under this topic of the call for proposals, with the exception of the DLR research institutes, Eurospace and SME4Space VZW.

A maximum of two projects for the subtopic transversal concepts and technologies shall be selected for funding.

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.  
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (single-stage call): maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Research and Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Grants awarded under this topic will be complementary to each other and complementary to grants awarded under topic COMPET-3–2014, sub-topic COMPET-3-2016-a and sub-topic COMPET-3-2016-b ("complementary grants"). In order to ensure a smooth and successful implementation of this Strategic Research Cluster (SRC), the beneficiaries of complementary grants ("complementary beneficiaries") shall conclude a written "collaboration agreement". The respective options of Article 2, Article 31.6 and Article 41.4 2 of the Model Grant Agreement will be applied.

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
5. Introduction to Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (LEITs) WP 2018-20
5iii. Space WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

In-space electrical propulsion and station keeping - Strategic Research Cluster: Guidance document for Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2019

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

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.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


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To access the Electronic Sumission Service, please click on the submission-button next to the type of action that corresponds to your proposal. You will then be asked to confirm your choice of the type of action and topic, as these cannot be changed in the submission system. Upon confirmation, you will be linked to the correct entry point.

To access existing draft proposals for this topic, please login to the Participant Portal and select the My Proposals page of the My Area section.

Type of Action Research and Innovation action [RIA]
Topic SRC – In-Space electrical propulsion and station keeping - SPACE-13-TEC-2019
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