Ireland gets new academy to take space skills to orbit

21 Jun 2024

National Space Centre (NSC) CTO Bruce Hannah. Image: NSC

The new Space Academy will give short courses to engineers, IT professionals and network industry personnel, so they can develop their understanding of space communications and satellite applications.

The National Space Centre (NSC) has launched a Space Academy to help give Irish companies the skills required to enter the global space sector.

The NSC said this new academy is aimed at engineers, IT professionals and network industry personnel. The academy offers short courses spanning from one to five days, which are designed to give applicants a core understanding of space communications and satellite applications.

The centre said the purpose of this Space Academy is to help Irish firms develop commercial applications so they can benefit from the global space economy. NSC CTO Bruce Hannah will be the academy’s head of education and noted how rapidly the space sector is growing.

“There are more than 10,000 satellites now orbiting Earth, delivering data for industries ranging from communications to humanitarian aid,” Hannah said. “The commercial landscape for space communication and satellite applications is a huge opportunity for Ireland’s technology and engineering companies.”

The courses will be based on-site at the NSC facility in Elfordstown, Cork, which is also home to the iconic 32-metre Big Dish. These courses are being supported by Space Industry Skillnet, a training network for Irish companies delivering technology and services to the global space market.

Space Industry Skillnet also offers a limited number of subsidies for course costs for employees of private companies, sole traders and consultants. More information on the dates that these courses take place – along with details on registering – can be found on the NSC website.

Last year, the non-profit Irish Space Association was formed to bring together stakeholders in Ireland’s space industry and grab a bigger portion of the growing global space market.

Limited space

Statistics released earlier this year suggest 2023 was a record year for the space sector, with more than 2,660 objects being launched into space. These figures suggest that the majority of these – 81pc – were US launches, while 1,935 objects were Starlink satellites.

But as space gets more crowded, there are growing concerns about the rising level of space debris and satellites in Earth’s orbit. There are fears that this rising activity could lead to Kessler Syndrome in the future. This is a scenario where the amount of objects in space create a cascading effect – with more collisions creating more debris, which causes even more collisions.

A recent report by NASA suggests there may be potential methods to deal with the rising issue of space debris.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic