Design to Produce

Digital technologies have radically changed businesses, industries and societies. Digital engineering is currently enabling a revolution of the way spacecraft are designed, developed, tested and operated.

Through the Design to Produce initiative ESA develops techniques to improve the space system end-to-end development process with the aim to reduce engineering lead time and cost.
At the heart of the initiative is the challenge to design space systems towards manufacturability, integration and verification and thus the need to feed relevant lessons learned from the manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing process back to the design process.
This requires a multidisciplinary approach, in-depth expertise and experience across all phases of a space system’s life-cycle that can be directly implemented through the Concurrent Design Facility.

Why it is needed

Design-to-Produce is especially important for the development of space systems intended to be fully integrated into modern economies, to serve new customers and integrate with diverse ground networks and smart devices.

To allow the shift from the lengthy document centric traditional design, build and then test process to a model centric analyse and build process more suitable to the new space environment. Using models and high-fidelity virtual environments to prototype, experiment and test options and concepts, means integrating new technologies with a faster pace.

How it works

ESA is supporting space industry with setting up partnerships and pilot projects with specialised non-space actors for a rapid adoption of smart space factories modus operandi. The initiative will substantially benefit from the leading expertise of European SMEs in related technologies such as embedded sensors, virtual, augmented and enriched reality.

The initiative follows the following key-lines of actions:


Digital engineering

Adopting digital models and digital engineering for end-to-end development across disciplines, life cycle and the supply chain


Embedded sensors

Continuous improvement of design and product based on analysis of data from embedded sensors, both on-ground and aboard, plus streamlined assembly, integration and testing

Latest generation techniques for the shop floor

Application of augmented reality and automation techniques and methods supporting execution of assembly, integration and testing, to prevent anomalies and failures and reduce inefficiencies.




A collaborative, co-operative, collective and simultaneous engineering working environment

Want to learn more

about design to produce?

Contact us via Email

Ilaria Roma

Head of Systems and Concurrent Engineering Section