Limerick aerospace firm Arralis renews ESA deal to keep Irish tech in space

6 Jan 2016

Arralis, a Limerick-based semiconductor manufacturer, will once again see its technology taken into outer space, with it having secured a €400,000 contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to put its radar subsystems into its spacecraft.

Arralis has its major centre in the western Irish city, with an additional design centre in Belfast, and will mark yet another moment in its dealing with the ESA over the last number of years.

As part of this contract, Arralis will be expected to continue its delivery of a series of 94GHz subsystems capable of being used in the harsh environment of space, typically seen in satellites relaying huge reams of data at any given time, or even the communications seen in uncrewed craft capable of landing on celestial bodies, like Philae back in 2014.

It is expected that this Arralis-developed communications system will continue to develop technology to allow future spacecraft to communicate at speeds that have so far been unattainable.

With data transfer speeds as high as 15Gbps wirelessly being capable on the 94GHz band, a spacecraft’s radar systems could be immeasurably improved to identify dangerous landing zones, avoiding small objects, such as rocks, which may cause damage to the spacecraft.

Back on Earth, the same speeds would allow for people to access similar data transfer speeds wirelessly at distances of as much as 15km.

Last September, Arralis secured €1.1m in European Horizon 2020 funding to develop PSR94, its radar technology project, following its previous securing of the ESA deal to use its radar tech in spacecraft back in December 2014.

Also in 2015, the company secured a number of international contracts in the UK, South Korea, Russia and China for its radar technology, the latter of which amounted to €1.45m.

Speaking from the European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said of the news: “The ESA is at the heart of Europe’s space ambitions and it is inspiring to see Irish companies like Arralis contribute to the new technologies that are in demand by the space industry and which form the foundations of European space programmes now and in the future”.

Satellite in orbit image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic