Internal Research Fellow in Bringing Blockchain to Software Product Assurance

Job Req ID:  15406
Closing Date:  9 December 2022 23:59 CET/CEST
Establishment:  ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands
Directorate:  Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality
Publication:  External Only
Vacancy Type:  Internal Research Fellow
Date Posted:  11 November 2022


Internal Research Fellowship Opportunity in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.


ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. For this purpose, we welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from women are encouraged.


This post is classified F2 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.


ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands  


Our team and mission

The Software Product Assurance Section provides support to ESA projects by ensuring that all requirements specified in applicable documentation are met and that the appropriate development tools and methods are used throughout the entire development life cycle. The Section also offers services for software product evaluation for conformity, software safety and dependability and software process assessment. Some of the activities related to the software engineering aspects will be carried out in collaboration with experts from the Software Technology Section at ESTEC.


You are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

The European Space Agency is seeking a post-doctoral researcher to conduct interdisciplinary research on blockchain unlocking solutions for flight software development and software quality assurance. The flight software and all the related development artefacts, including requirements, models, documentation, source code and test evidence, are an integral part of every space mission. The complete software development life cycle is covered by well-established processes and standards described in ECSS-E-ST-40C and ECSS-Q-ST-80C Rev.1. Distributed ledger technology and cryptography can bring many benefits to the quality assurance of software development by increasing transparency and traceability. For aerospace projects, it is desirable to have a tamper-proof way of handling configuration management, product baselines, release management and all the above-mentioned artefacts.


As a member of the Software Product Assurance Section at ESTEC, your research will focus on new methods and tools to further automate and digitalise the software development and quality assurance processes. Blockchain may be used as a promising technology based on distributed ledger technology and immutable records. Another key element may be the “smart contract”, which can be stored on the blockchain and executed automatically if pre-defined conditions are met. The general blockchain and distributed ledger technologies are standardised; however, they will need to be adapted to be used in an aerospace context.


Your research activity will include:
•    studying the open literature, scientific publications and standards focusing on combining blockchain with software development and quality assurance processes and becoming familiar with the available blockchain frameworks;
•    getting to know and understanding the relevant European space standards on software and software product assurance to identify processes and requirements that can benefit from adopting blockchain;
•    proposing an approach to address one or more identified improvement opportunities. The approach should be fully aligned with the software development life cycle used for developing software for spacecraft and ground segment;
•    providing a proof of concept of the proposed approach;
•    exploring possible connections and application to FPGA development life cycle processes;
•    actively participating in conferences and meetings to disseminate your research findings and results.

Technical competencies

Ability to conduct research autonomously
Breadth of exposure coming from past and/or current research/activities
Research/publication record
Knowledge relevant to the field of research
General interest in space and space research
Ability to gather and share relevant information

Behavioural competencies

Result Orientation
Operational Efficiency
Fostering Cooperation
Relationship Management
Continuous Improvement
Forward Thinking 


You should have recently completed or be close to completion of a PhD in computer science or (software) engineering. Preference will be given to candidates who have obtained their doctorate within the past five years.

Additional requirements

The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required. Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset.

Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.


For further information on the Internal Research Fellowship Programme please visit: Internal Research Fellowship


The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.


In addition to your CV and your motivation letter, please add your proposal of no more than 5 pages outlining your proposed research in the "additional documents" field of the "application information" section.

At the Agency we value diversity and we welcome people with disabilities.  Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace.  The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance during the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss this further please contact us at


Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Nationals from Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as Associate Member States, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria and Cyprus as European Cooperating States (ECS).

According to the ESA Convention, the recruitment of staff must take into account an adequate distribution of posts among nationals of the ESA Member States*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to candidates from under-represented or balanced Member States*.(


In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment conducted by an external background screening service. 

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.