ESA jointly with Space Applications Services, Airbus, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) with Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd (GES) is looking for new ideas stimulating innovative continuous applications, e.g. energy provision, life support systems, biological functions, plant germination processes, resources utilization, material exploitation processes, detection and measurement, etc. for the purposes of Space Exploration.

Malfunction is not an option: ESA & Commercial Partners inviting resilient systems to assure on-orbit exploration operations.

This challenge seeks new ideas to solve system malfunctions and to contribute to the success of space exploration missions. The ideas shall be flyable in a cube/cube-sat size [1U ≡ 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm] towards one of the following destinations:

Target groups are space and non-space companies, from large corporations to start-ups, academia, research centres and emerging teams embracing this challenge. Applicants are requested to choose the destination and facility suitable to the scope of their ideas.


There is a two-stage prize:

  1. Firstly, the best idea per destination and
  2. Later the solo winner selected during the Space for Inspiration 2018 event.

The prizes per destination are around EUR 50,000 each:

  • ICE Cubes Prize: ICE Cubes flight ticket to the International Space Station. The four-month service includes the flight, operations and mentorship of the experimental payload [1U-size].
  • Bartolomeo Prize: Slot reservation for a 2020/2021 flight. The prize includes safety feasibility reviews and favourable rate conditions.
  • Surrey Satellite Technology and Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd Prize: Training to develop and operate a payload on a lunar mission, on-site workshops, hands-on training in the cleanroom or at the mission operations centre, and a SSTL-GES feasibility study.

The prize includes a certificate recognising the idea as ESA Business Innovation Idea Master Award 2018 and a dedicated press release on the ESA space exploration benefits website.



Applications will be evaluated by a panel of experts from ESA and commercial partners. The criteria are:

  • Relevance for space exploration
  • Ratio between market potential and feasible implementation in the short-medium term
  • Aptness to foster industrial cooperation between Europe and the rest of the world
  • Suitability to enable innovation
  • Contribution to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals


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    European Space Agency (ESA)

    The European Space Agency 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’s vision positions space exploration as a global endeavour, including missions to low Earth orbit, the Moon and Mars. It also aims to establish marketable space exploration initiatives and to boost socio-economic growth, job creation and added welfare.

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    ICE Cubes (Space Applications Services)

    ICE Cubes provides a fast, direct and cost-effective end-to-end service for your experiment or technology to fly on board the International Space Station in low Earth orbit.

    ICE Cubes allows to make the unique environment of microgravity more accessible to all. WATCH VIDEO

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    Bartolomeo (Airbus)

    Bartolomeo enables the hosting of external payloads in low Earth orbit, on board the International Space Station.

    Airbus Defence and Space’s All-in-One Mission Service comprises all mission elements into one commercial contract (mission preparation, payload launch, payload on-orbit installation, commissioning, operation, payload data processing and delivery), in order to provide the customer a reliable integrated mission solution. The offer includes the option to return the entire payload or a selected sample to Earth. WATCH VIDEO

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    Lunar Pathfinder Mission led by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd

    Lunar pathfinder provides an end-to-end set of commercial lunar exploration services at low cost, to enable a wide range of users to undertake a complete lunar mission.

    It is the first in a series of missions to offer dedicated commercial data relay and lunar navigation services for lunar exploration assets, in addition to transport of small payloads and missions up to 60kg into lunar orbit. A simple internet connection to the world’s first commercial deep space node, gives you the ability to control your payload in lunar orbit via from your desk. WATCH VIDEO



Bernhard Hufenbach
+31 71 565 5075