Fostering new terrestrial markets for application-driven research in Low-Earth Orbit  

The European Space Agency (ESA) is supporting industry-driven business opportunities for commercial multi-user facilities operating on-board the International Space Station (ISS) or on future commercial stations, as well as on autonomous LEO free-flyers with return capability.  


Through this Call for Proposals (CfP) activity, ESA is planning to invite the European private sector to submit proposals for industry-led service offers in the context of commercial LEO utilisation. The purpose of this call is to foster the creation of new terrestrial markets for application-driven research and in-space manufacturing. To this end, the Agency aims to increase the existing portfolio of ESA-supported commercial multi-user facilities on the ISS (ICE Cubes Service, Bartolomeo Service, Bioreactor Express Service). 

By issuing this call, ESA plans to strengthen unique commercial capabilities and industry-led business cases that combine public as well as private sector contributions and investments in order to realise the intended service on the market. In doing so, ESA and its Member States aim to increase the European socio-economic impact and benefit delivered by the ‘Terrae Novae’ space exploration programme, which is implemented by the Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration (HRE).  



The proposals shall provide commercially viable business cases and applications in the context of European-led space exploration activities. The proposals shall address the step-wise demonstration of commercial LEO services enabling science, applied research, production, and technology demonstration addressing terrestrial markets (e.g. human health, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, robotics, agriculture, food production, advanced materials). The business cases shall be commercially viable without an ESA utilisation commitment. The proposed services shall be based on 

  1. Dedicated multi-user facilities operating on-board ISS or future commercial stations: establishment of new services enabled by using human infrastructures (ISS, future CLDs) in LEO, or  
  2. Autonomous LEO multi-user facilities with return capability: establishment of new services leveraging LEO free-flyer robotic platforms (e.g. Space Rider).  


The Call activity is planned to cover a number of so-called “Pilot Phases”, during which ESA supports the selected companies to mature their intended service in terms of technical feasibility and business viability, market potential and scalability, third-party funding opportunities, and a commitment of the first commercial customers. The companies shall develop a plan for the implementation of a demonstration mission of the multi-user facility towards the end of the Pilot Phase.  

The Pilot Phase duration is typically 3 months.  

During the Pilot Phase, selected businesses are planned to receive a small co-funded contract and technical in-kind support. In addition, ESA will support the:

• Maturation of the technical definition.
Maturation of the business plan and the commitment of the first commercial customers.
Development of a plan towards implementation of a demonstration mission of the multi-user facility.

The Pilot Phases will prepare mature service offers to receive implementation support through applicable ESA programmes.  

Planned Call for Proposals 

This Call for Proposals is planned to be issued in open competition on the Agency’s online tendering portal esa-star. 


Exchange with ESA 

If you have any questions or would like to request a direct meeting, please send an email to ESA is offering the opportunity for direct meetings until 25 April 2024.  


Upcoming Webinar 

On 18 April 2024, ESA will be hosting a 90-minute Teams webinar and Q&A to provide further information about the Call for Proposals to industry.  

Please register for the Online Webinar using the form below.

If you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at