Call for Ideas "Small Missions" 2015

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Call for Ideas for a small mission 2015

CfI Small Missions

NOTE: This call for proposals has been closed.

“To select the best concepts for a future small mission”


The call for Ideas - Small Missions is now closed


1.  Objective

Small satellites, considered to be those weighing less than 300 kg with less than 250 W power consumption, are increasing in number and relevance at worldwide level. They have the potential to perform high quality missions at low cost. While they allow top-level science to be conducted, small satellites present challenges at different levels in terms of miniaturisation and cost pressure. At the same time, the range of overall mission costs are affordable for a broader community of institutional and private actors allowing new forms of partnerships and shorter development times of around five years from selection to launch.

According to the Swiss Space Implementation Plan (PDF, 765 KB) (SSIP), “Small satellites” is one of the emerging themes that deserves particular attention. The Swiss Space Office from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation of the Swiss Confederation (SERI/SSO) is initiating the present Call for Ideas in order to select the best concepts from the Swiss space community for a future small mission.

2. Key requirements

The present Call for Ideas is very open and does deliberately not mention any preference for a specific thematic area. The key requirements are the following:

 a)   Relevance to Switzerland

The proposed mission must show high relevance for Switzerland and take into account the Swiss focal areas as described in the SSIP. It shall contribute to the advancement of Swiss capabilities and, in particular, it shall allow for increasing key technological competences and building up knowledge in Switzerland with regard to small missions.

 b)  Need, usefulness and excellence

The proposed mission shall

  • respond to identified end user interests and needs or to a need for a pilot service of public or private entities (application benefit), or
  • be based on and advance scientific excellence (scientific benefit), or
  • present a commercial opportunity for specific users willing to drive the mission (economic benefit).

 c)  Uniqueness and complementarity

The proposed mission must provide for a unique added value that is of interest at national and international level. The proposed idea may also take into account other means (e.g. not space) of addressing the identified challenges in that domain as well as allow for complementarity with existing or planned space missions.

d)  Partnership and cooperation

Cooperation and partnership schemes between industry and academia should be envisaged. Further and with a longer-term view, the involvement of young engineers/scientists in academia-industry cooperation should be promoted (educational benefit). The potential for public-private partnerships or other funding approaches could be taken into account for potential user-funded Small Satellite Missions.

e)  Mission Funding and Timeline

The proposed mission can include a potential future funding contribution from the public sector of up to 30 MEUR.

The timeline following the feasibility studies to be carried out (the present Call for Ideas) depends on the programmatic framework that will be used for implementing one selected mission, if any.

3.  Who may apply

Only proposals submitted by entities based in Switzerland (natural persons being excluded) will be considered.

In case the proposed mission is intended to be developed in cooperation with foreign entities, their role must be clearly indicated.

4.  Financial support

Up to three feasibility studies (phase 0: mission analysis/needs identification[1]) will be selected. A maximum amount of 100’000 CHF is allocated to each selected study, to be considered as a unique subsidy, which cannot be extended. The funding shall be used exclusively to pay salaries. No management or administrative costs are foreseen under this scheme.

The financial support being a public subsidy, the Value-Added Tax (VAT) does not apply (Swiss law on the VAT: MWSTG/LTVA/LIVA Art. 18).

5.  Duration of the study

The proposed studies shall last for a maximum of 8 months from the kick-off to the delivery of the final report.

6.  Meetings/reviews

The following reviews are planned at contractor premises or by teleconference:

  • Kick-Off meeting (date T0).
  • Progress Meeting 1 (date T0 + 3 months).
  • Progress Meeting 2 (date T0 + 6 months).
  • Final Presentation (date T0 + 8 months). The final presentation will be internal and therefore not a public presentation.

7.  Deliverables

The deliverables are the Final Report, to be delivered at the end of the study for the date agreed at kick-off, the mid-term report (for the date of Progress Meeting 2) and the presentations given during the meeting/reviews.

The Final Report shall provide a complete description of all the work done during the activity and shall be self-standing. It shall cover the whole scope of the activity, i.e. a comprehensive introduction of the context, a description of the programme of work and report on the activities performed and the main results achieved. It shall contain all the necessary elements to allow the beginning of a phase A, or propose complementary actions, with justifications, to complete the phase 0.

All the deliverables shall be provided in electronic format (PDF).

8.  Format of the proposal

1.     Cover letter
2.     Technical & administrative proposal (20 pages max)

The technical & administrative proposal shall be structured according to the following main sections:

  • Motivation for the proposed mission (Why?)
  • Description of the proposed mission concept (What?)
  • Study plan logic, Work Breakdown Structure (How?)
  • Work Package description
  • Structure of the team, experience of the bidder(s), key personnel
  • Financial aspects, including payment plan (in principle 40% at kick-off, 40% after successful Progress Meeting 2, and 20% after reception of all deliverables)

Please note that detailed costing based on ESA PSS standard is not required.

9.  Evaluation procedure

The Swiss Space Center will perform the technical and scientific evaluation by setting up an internal evaluation board. The main criteria will be the ones listed in the section 2 (Key requirements) of the present document. If needed, and in consultation with the Swiss Space Office, the evaluation board may contact external experts for recommendations. The final evaluation and decision will be made by the Swiss Space Office.

10. Intellectual property rights and confidentiality

The intellectual property rights (IPR) will entirely belong to the authors of the proposals. Depending on the proposal, an overview of IPR to be used and IPR issues anticipated to arise may have to be provided. In such cases, the Swiss Space Center shall request that the overview be submitted within a mutually agreeable time-frame.

No information about the funded projects will be publicly available.

Finally, anyone involved in the evaluation process and not member of the Swiss Public administration shall sign a non-disclosure agreement to ensure confidentiality of the projects proposed in the frame of this Call.

11. Schedule

  • 30 January 2015:        Publication of the present Call for Ideas for a Small Mission
  • 06 March 2015:           Deadline to submit the proposals to the Swiss Space Center
  • End March 2015:        Decision taken by the Swiss Space Office
  • 03 April 2015:             All participants informed of the outcome of their submissions by the Swiss Space Center
  • April 2015:                  Kick-off meetings / start of studies
  • 30 November 2015:    End of studies, final report submitted

12. Submission of the proposals

Only proposals received by Friday 06 March 2015 at midnight will be accepted for evaluation. Each proposal, written in English, shall be submitted in electronic format (PDF) to the following address:

Swiss Space Center
Gilles Feusier
Station 13, EPFL
CH-1015 Lausanne

Tel: +41 (0)21 693 69 76+41 (0)21 693 69 76

13. Questions and requests for clarifications

Any questions related to this Call for Ideas shall be submitted to Gilles Feusier by email. All applicable information will be published here.


[1] The example of project phasing (phase 0, A and B) described in the present document is based on the space standard ECSS-M-ST-10C Rev. 1 “Space project management Project planning and implementation”. This ECSS standard can be made available by the Swiss Space Center upon request.


Questions and Answers (Q&A)

Q1: Programmatic framework for mission development/exploitation: Is this “small mission” supposed to be developed in the framework of a future ESA S-Class mission?
A1: The programmatic framework for the potential implementation of the proposed mission is not relevant for the time being.
Q2: Future funding contribution from the public sector: What does the 30 MEUR refer to?
A2: As specified in the Call, the proposed mission can include a potential future funding contribution from the public sector of up to 30 MEUR.
Q3: Mass: What does the 300 kg mass budget refer to?
A3: The total launch mass should not exceed 300 kg.
Q4: Swissness/Primeship: Will a proposal that includes a non-Swiss Prime be eligible for funding?
A4: Yes. However, the proposal must clearly specify the role of foreign entities during the Phase 0 study, and in the future development and exploitation phases.

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Tue Jul 25 09:36:39 CEST 2017
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