It is rocket science – European style

23 Jul 2008

Ireland currently contributes €13m per year to the European Space Agency (ESA), enabling Irish companies and researchers to secure ESA contracts, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Jimmy Devins TD, told a European Space Council meeting in French Guiana today.

The meeting, in ‘Europe’s Space Port’, Kourou, was arranged by the French EU Presidency to discuss further development of the European space sector.

Ireland has been a participant in the European launcher development programme since the early Eighties, having been involved in the Ariane 4 launcher and the current European (heavy lift) Ariane 5 launcher.

Currently, the main Irish industrial involvement in the European launchers programme is by Marotta Ireland, which provides support struts for the engine mounting on Ariane 5.

A number of emerging Irish technology companies, supported by the ESA and Enterprise Ireland, are currently developing highly innovative technologies for the further evolution of the Ariane or the next-generation launcher to be developed in Europe.

“In the past decade, over 60 Irish companies have secured ESA contracts. A number of these are successfully exploiting their technology in the global space/aerospace market,” the Minister said.

“A number of companies have adapted the technologies within the space programme for commercial exploitation in non-space markets, including telecommunications and medical devices.

“Over 10 Irish university teams are involved in ESA programmes in areas ranging from developing instruments for space astronomy to study of materials in microgravity environments.”

By Sorcha Corcoran