The Space Studies Program (SSP), a curriculum designed for young graduates, professionals starting or changing emphasis in their space careers or for persons working in space-related fields who wish to broaden their knowledge and understanding beyond their current discipline.

“ISU was an invaluable, truly enriching, experience that broadened my horizons on both professional and personal levels. It offered a holistic 360 degrees industry view in an inspiring environment of talented and passionate people determined to make a positive and lasting impact in the Space Industry.”

Violetta Kuvaeva

SSP06/MSM07, Russia, Senior manager Fleet Development at SES

space studies program

The Space Studies Program (SSP), an intense two-month professional development course for postgraduate students and professionals of all disciplines, is a unique educational experience.

The curriculum covers the principal space related fields, both non-technical and technical and ranges from policy and law, business and management and humanities to life sciences, engineering, physical sciences and space applications. The shared experience of an international, interactive working environment is an ideal networking forum leading to the creation of an extensive, international, multidisciplinary professional network comprising the program’s alumni, faculty members and visiting lecturers.

Through the exchange of ideas and information, this network has been successful in advancing projects in such areas as disaster warning and mitigation systems, human health enhancement using space technologies, and has even significantly contributed to the creation of a national space agency.

Each year the SSP is held in a different location across the globe. Moving to a new city and country adds an exciting dynamic as well as new resources and expertise to the program.

Next SSP

Oeiras, Portugal, 27 June to 26 August 2022

SSP22 will have an hybrid format:

  • On-site (in residence program in Oeiras) from June 27 to August 26;
  • An online program from June 27 to August 5, 2022.


Oeiras is a municipality located in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, where it occupies the 4th place regarding inhabitants’ density. The city is flanked on the south by the river Tejo, where it meets the Atlantic ocean (Tejo estuary), on the north by the municipalities of Sintra and Amadora, on the east by Lisbon and on the west by Cascais. The city of Oeiras is a diverse municipality, enriched with people from Brazil, Cape-Verde, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, China, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, St. Tome and Principe, Spain, UK among others. Oeiras has also residents from Eritrea, Iraq and Syria. Globally, Oeiras has high standards of life quality, development and wealth, being the second municipality in Lisbon Metropolitan Area with the highest purchasing power per capita. In the territory, business and international enterprises provide dynamics and economic development, with the headquarters of most relevant companies.

“ISU is very excited to be hosted by Portugal Space and the Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST) Taguspark Campus in Oeiras, Portugal, during the summer of 2022 to offer our signature northern hemisphere Space Studies Program (SSP). It is an intensive, multidisciplinary, intercultural and international 9 weeks in-residence program. As the Director of the Program, I’m very pleased to welcome all of you from every corner of the globe to join me and the ISU team to the beautiful country of Portugal for the summer of 2022 for an exciting and fantastic SSP22 in the city of Oeiras”

Kenol Jules SSP22 Director, NASA

SSP Structure

The interdisciplinary curriculum of the SSP, with its emphasis on international cooperation, exposes participants to broad new perspectives on the world’s space activities – perspectives otherwise reserved for those with many years of diverse professional experience. The program is packed with a wide variety of activities, including lectures by renowned experts, hands-on activities and projects, team work and professional visits.

The main elements of the SSP curriculum are the core lecture series, workshops, departments and team projects. All course work at ISU is conducted in English. Each year the program evolves to better meet the needs of the participants and their employers. Participants are strongly encouraged to contribute their own knowledge, experience, ideas, culture and opinions as well as their energy and enthusiasm.

Reflecting on ISU’s pedagogical approach and vision, interest in and respect for different cultures and backgrounds is expected from participants.


Phase I of the SSP curriculum ensures participants have a basic grounding in the fundamentals of all the disciplines that are relevant to space programs — and that they understand the rela­tionships between these disciplines in any space-related activity. All partic­ipants attend the core lecture series, which creates a basic framework of knowledge to prepare participants for informed and balanced judgment.

A series of lectures in each field of study that is designed primarily for non-experts is presented. Thus, med­ical specialists can understand the lec­tures on propulsion and engineers and lawyers can understand the lectures on the effects of weightlessness on the human body.

Core lectures are often grouped in clusters. Questions from participants and group discussions with the lectur­ers are encouraged.

Knowledge gained from the core lec­tures allows participants to:

☞ understand the very large range of factors, both technical and non-tech­nical, involved in space activity

☞ apply good decision-making and management skills to projects

☞ appreciate the relevance of all dis­ciplines during the development and exploitation of space activities

SSP Workshops are activities de­signed to enhance and complement the knowledge acquired during core lectures through more active learning in smaller groups. Participants choose activities based on their interests. A number of activities are conducted in parallel and participants must sign up in advance. Topics may be offered more than once so as many people as possible are able to benefit.

Workshop activities offered in SSP19 included:

☞ Advanced communication skills

☞ Design thinking

☞ Space debris

☞ Spacecraft sensing and instrumentation

☞ Space, a new frontier for ethical interrogation

☞ Media training and crisis communication

☞ Robotics

☞ Artificial gravity

☞ Astronomy and Civilization : a look through time and space

☞ Visit to l’Observatoire de Strasbourg

☞ Business model canvas

☞ Space business coo-petition

☞ Stimulation and perturbation

☞ Radar image processing

☞ Startup pitching


Department activities encourage ex­change of knowledge, ideas and opin­ions through debate and discussion, as well as hands-on activities. De­partments have more time to go into greater depth with activities such as:

☞ A seminar and discussion that go into greater depth following a core lecture

☞ Visiting a space-related facility in the area

☞ Building and operating very low frequency radio receivers

☞ Remote sensing projects using local imagery and involving ground truthing

☞ Examining barriers to technology transfer

☞ Presentations by participants on their own work or interests

☞ Building and launching a small rocket and payload

☞ Hands-on experience with data systems or experimental hardware

☞ Debates on space exploration’s impact on society

Department activities provide an im­portant opportunity for participants to interact with faculty members and lecturers and build their professional network. They also provide a means for participants to become sensitive to the cultural differences that govern personal interactions in a group set­ting and to adapt and develop presen­tation and negotiation skills in light of this cultural diversity.

The department chair will work with each participant to define a short ex­ercise or project as part of the depart­mental activities. These projects may be done individually or in small teams and include an oral presentation of professional research or a professional paper and presentation on current is­sues for a conference.

During the SSP, departments make professional visits to space agencies, companies, and space-related research institutes/universities. The activity varies based on the available local re­sources.

Some example of SSP19 professional visits and activities are:

☞ CERN, Switzerland

☞ European Astronaut Center (EAC), Germany

☞ Institute of Space Systems of the University of Stuttgart, Germany

☞ SES (Luxembourg)

☞ European Space Operations Center (ESOC), Germany

☞ iSpace, Luxembourg

☞ Spire, Luxembourg

☞ SEMIA incubator, France


In Phase III of the SSP, participants work in international, interdisciplinary and intercultural teams to produce a comprehensive analysis and proposals for an international space project or on a topic of relevance to the professional space sector. Participants choose one from multiple team project topics and work on that topic for the duration of the SSP. This element of the program has three main objectives:

☞ To encourage participants to put into practice what they have brought from their own educational and/or professional background, plus knowl­edge and skills they learn from lec­tures, workshops and other presenta­tions during the SSP.

☞ To experience decision-making and organizing work in sub teams. Also, to learn how to converge on solutions and recommendations while working in multidisciplinary and intercultur­al teams- where conflicting require­ments emerge and compromises must be made.

☞ To produce a comprehensive report of professional level and present it in a public session at the end product of the team project. The report covers all aspects – technical, financial, organiza­tional, political, schedule and risk

Many ISU reports have served as re­sources for the world space commu­nity (see for Team Project reports). The structure of team projects depends to some extent on their subject matter, but certain as­pects are common to all team projects:

☞ An early phase of exploratory or brainstorming discussion of the project

☞ A series of factual lectures specific to the team project topics Research and an intensive fact finding period

☞ A challenging period of wrestling with different ways of organizing the study effort

☞ Extensive opportunities to engage departmental faculty members and lecturers in discussion of team project issues

☞ An interim presentation and review where expert advice and comments will be given

☞ A period of very intense work to complete the final report.



Each participant’s academic performance is evaluated on the basis of:

☞ Performance on the examination of the fundamental concepts of the core lecture series

☞ Participation in departmental activities and the individ­ual or team assignment

☞ Contribution to the team project

Participants are required to obtain a satisfactory evaluation in each of these three elements in order to obtain a Certifi­cate of Completion for the program.

Faculty and Lecturers

In a typical SSP about 250 lecturers and experts academia from space agencies, industry and from all over the world provide instruction to the student body. The SSP curriculum is coordinated by the Core, Department, and Team Project chairs and supported by members of the ISU Faculty.

Click here to view a list of invited lecturers and experts for SSP21.


SSP Admissions requirements

Applicants are assessed on the basis of their academic and professional qualifications and their achievements, as well as on their proficiency in English. The decision on admission is made by the ISU Admissions Committee.

Applicants must have a Bachelor’s Degree or the equivalent, including 3 years of studies as a minimum, awarded by an accredited university. Information on academic qualification equivalencies may be obtained from the ISU Admissions Office.

Under exceptional circumstances, appropriate professional experience in fields relevant to the main academic content of SSP could be considered by the Admissions Committee as contributing to achieving the equivalence of the required academic qualification.

Preference is given to applicants holding higher academic degrees and to applicants with professional experience in industry, government agencies or academic institutions.

FEES: the full fees for SSP22 onsite (taking place in Oeiras, Portugal from 27 June to 26 August 2022) are EUR 18,500. The fees for the online version of SSP22 are EUR 9,500. Payment may also be made in US dollars at the inter-bank exchange rate on the date of payment.

This fee is inclusive of tuition, accommodation and meals for SSP22 onsite (and tuition only for SSP22 online). Travel to and from Oeiras and medical insurance are not included.

SSP22 applicants in need of financial aid should apply online on the ISU website and send the requested documents (grade transcripts, diplomas if any and reference letters) to by 31 January 2022. After that date remaining scholarships will be granted until they run out. SSP22 applicants not in need of financial aid may apply until 30 April 2022.

If you are applying for the online version of SSP22, please mention it in your application (in the essay or in the additional information section).

Host Site Application Process

The Host Site application process is currently under revision.

Contact: Mr. Kenol Jules, SSP Director


Future ssp's

At its regular meeting on 18 February, the International Space University (ISU) Board of Trustees recognized the high quality of the competitive proposal submitted by the Portuguese Space Agency and the University of Lisbon’s Instituto Superior Técnico Engineering School and decided to hold the nine-week Space Studies Program of 2022 (SSP22) in the greater Lisbon area, Portugal, in the June-September period.

The Portuguese proposal includes access to national expertise in space-related matters at universities, research centers, government agencies and private companies. These resources, combined with top level academic and residential facilities and a welcoming and safe environment, make for a very promising SSP in 2022.