Irish companies have distinguished themselves in Europe’s space programme by developing innovative technologies capable of performing in the extreme environment of space.
That’s the verdict of Dr Franco Ongaro, head of the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, Holland.
Dr Ongaro was guest speaker at Enterprise Ireland’s recent forum at Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork about the benefits of our membership of the European Space Agency (ESA).
“Irish companies have distinguished themselves, particularly in the fields of electronics, software, materials and propulsion,” he said. “The areas where Irish companies are active right now are those which are likely to continue to grow.”
€80m in R&D contracts
The forum heard key facts about the involvement of Irish companies in space research and development:
- Since 2000, over 80 Irish companies have secured ESA contracts worth more than €80 million
- Particular value comes through further development of these space technologies for terrestrial applications such as healthcare, emergency response and environmental monitoring
- Spin-off export sales were worth around €35 million in 2010 and are projected to grow substantially as more Irish firms secure ESA contracts and exploit their inventions commercially
Ireland’s higher education institutes have also been involved in research in the space industry since the 1970s, when the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies worked with NASA on the Apollo 16 and 17 missions to the Moon.
One recent success story was the role of a Dublin-based company in the docking of the first commercial flight to the International Space Station earlier this month. Curtiss Wright Controls Avionics & Electronics developed and supplied the equipment used to monitor the systems and performance on board the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launcher.
The European Space Agency is also involved in a joint initiative with Discover Science & Engineering called ESERO Ireland – the European Space Education Resource Office.
ESERO Ireland aims to provide space-themed resources to teachers and raise awareness about space as a theme for inspiring an interest in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) across all age groups.
Visit the ESERO Ireland website
How do you get into the space industry? Read an interview with our Science Ambassador and space technology consultant Danny Gleeson
Learn how the National Space Centre in Cork and six Irish companies were involved in preparing components for two of Europe’s Galileo satellites which were launched last year
Read about “Ireland’s Space Endeavours“, Enterprise Ireland’s new report about the impact of Irish research and innovation in space technologies