Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Access to space

Topic identifier: SPACE-16-TEC-2018
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
31 October 2017
Deadline: 06 March 2018 17:00:00

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

Access to space is an indispensable element of the entire value chain of space and has been recognised as an area of strategic importance towards the direction of Europe's non-dependence.

Access to space is a matter of security of supply, industry capability and technology readiness and a sine qua non condition of the modern space knowledge-based economies. Only a handful of space-faring countries master this capability as a result of extensive institutional funding for research and development costs and the guarantee of services exploitation. Europe has achieved its remarkable position in this field thanks to national programmes and the programmes of the European Space Agency, Access to Space being one fundamental origin of its creation in 1975.

The Space Strategy for Europe has confirmed that Europe shall maintain autonomous, reliable and cost-effective access to space. It underlined that it is crucial that Europe continues to have modern, efficient and flexible launch, production and test infrastructure facilities.

Cost reduction and improving flexibility of European launch systems are the main challenges in order to foster European industry competitiveness on the global market.

The industry 4.0 transformational wave is likely to bring opportunities for lowering the cost of space launch manufacturing/integration/testing/operations and further improving quality.

The specific challenge is to support research and innovation in technologies, in complementarity and full synergy with the on-going work undertaken by Member States and European initiatives, contributing to:

  • Investigate the potential Launch system reusability technologies;
  • Launch system advanced manufacturing and modern ground infrastructures.

Each proposal shall address only one of the following two sub-topics:

a) Potential Launch system reusability technologies and their applicability for European needs: With an aim at further lowering cost for the next generation of European launchers and transportation systems, activities shall only address new technologies relevant to reusability, such as advanced avionics and data management (e.g. optimised return concepts including autonomous safety), advanced structural parts and materials, health monitoring systems and non-destructive control technologies, advanced propulsion systems & equipment (e.g. propellant management, disconnection systems and special ground systems). These could be used as building blocks for in-flight demonstration. The activities shall include an assessment of the cost effectiveness of the proposed new technologies expected for the exploitation phase (flight and ground operations) and an estimation of the necessary investments and time schedule needed to reach TRL 8/9.

TRL 5/6 should be sought at completion of the proposed activities in view of a possible IOD/IOV in-flight demonstration as a next step.

b) Launch system advanced manufacturing (e.g. tooling and machines) and modern infrastructures (including ground infrastructures for low cost European launch sites): Activities shall address technologies and processes applied to launch systems development, production, testing and operations (applicable to European space transportation systems including mini and micro launch systems) such as automation of activities (e.g. automated guided handling tools, automated integration, and inspection, collaborative robots, automated testing), digital technologies to the benefit of quality and costs (e.g. usage of COTS (commercial-of-the-shelf) equipment, digital assistance to operators, big data processing for continuous improvement), advanced materials with accent on low-cost manufacturing processes (e.g. 3D printing, composite, joining technology) and remote operations (e.g. remote control centre, improved safety management), ground infrastructures for European launch sites including for low cost access to space for mini, micro, nano satellites, including commercial initiatives. The proposed solutions to be considered will take into account the possible evolutions of the regulatory framework, in particular REACH, and will also take into account the environmental impacts and health risks.

For each topic, activities shall be complementary with other European activities in the same domain.

These activities shall consist of research, innovation, development and qualification work which can be readily integrated within current and planned European launch, test and production infrastructures. A preliminary implementation plan shall be included in the proposal and detailed during the action.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 3 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:
  • Improved European competitiveness in cost-effective reusability technologies for space transportation systems complementary with other European activities in the same domain leading to launch system reusability solutions which could be demonstrated in flight within three to five years, including forecast of investment needed;
  • Increase compliance with the evolutions of the regulatory framework, in particular REACH;
  • Improved quality and safety control solutions, which are absolutely fundamental in rocketry;
  • Cost reduction of space transportation system manufacturing, integration, testing and operations thanks to research and innovation in advanced manufacturing and modernisation of infrastructures taking into account the evolution of the normative framework and environmental impacts. This is aimed at improving the overall competitiveness of European solutions on the worldwide market and helping create new jobs;
  • Integration of human factors in ground facilities, such as improved work environment for operators, efficiency, quality of operations and human safety.
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.


A maximum of two proposals per sub-topic 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

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

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.


Submission Service

No submission system is open for this topic.

Get support

H2020 Online Manual is your guide on the procedures from proposal submission to managing your grant.

Participant Portal FAQ – Submission of proposals.

National Contact Points (NCP) - contact your NCP for further assistance in your national language(s).

Research Enquiry Service – ask questions about any aspect of European research in general and the EU Research Framework Programmes in particular.

Enterprise Europe Network – contact your EEN national contact for advice to businesses with special focus on SMEs. The support includes guidance on the EU research funding.

IT Helpdesk - contact the Participant Portal IT helpdesk for questions such as forgotten passwords, access rights and roles, technical aspects of submission of proposals, etc.

Ethics – for compliance with ethical issues, see the Online Manual and Science and Society Portal

European IPR Helpdesk assists you on intellectual property issues

CEN and CENELEC, the European Standards Organisations, advise you how to tackle standardisation in your project proposal. Contact CEN-CENELEC Research Helpdesk at

The European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for their recruitment

Partner Search Services help you find a partner organisation for your proposal.