ESA rocket Ariane 6 carrying Irish tech set to launch

9 Jul 2024

Ariane 6 rocket. Image: L Bourgeon/ESA

Dublin-based Réaltra has built two key technologies for the French-designed rocket: a video telemetry system and a global navigation satellite system.

Ariane 6, a rocket carrying technology created by Irish space-tech company Réaltra, is scheduled for launch later today (9 July).

Designed and built by French aerospace company ArianeGroup on behalf the European Space Agency (ESA), the Ariane 6 rocket will launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana between 7pm and 11pm Irish time.

While primarily a demonstration flight, the inaugural launch will see Ariane 6 carry satellites, deployers and experiments from companies, research institutes, universities, young professionals and space agencies. The rocket will also carry multiple cubesats and payloads that will remain attached to the rocket’s upper stage.

Dublin-based Réaltra has provided two key technologies for the rocket: a video telemetry system (VIKI) and a global navigation satellite system (GNSS).

VIKI will provide the live HD video telemetry images during all phases of the launcher mission, from six cameras located onboard the Ariane 6. Réaltra has previously designed and manufactured the video system mounted on the Ariane 5 launch vehicle for the James Webb Space Telescope.

Meanwhile, the GNSS system will leverage advanced satellite navigation technology to collect and transmit data from remote sources using sensors to ensure precise positioning, velocity and timing measurements. It is intended to fly as an autonomous experimental system on this first launch of Ariane 6 to validate the GNSS functionality in space at high speeds.

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Emer Higgins, TD, commended Enterprise Ireland for playing an important role in connecting the Irish space industry and research community for participation in ESA programmes such as Ariane 6.

“We are very proud of Irish company Réaltra for its contribution to this new pioneering European rocket, the Ariane 6,” Higgins said.

“Working in space demands the highest engineering and manufacturing standards and skills. The inclusion of Réaltra’s technology in the Ariane 6 is a testament to their market-leading expertise, and an inspiration to other Irish companies in the highly specialised space market.”

Vincent Guérend, the French ambassador to Ireland, said that Franco-Irish relations have reached “a whole new dimension” when it comes to space.

“France’s ambition is underpinned by collaborative projects between us Europeans, bringing together researchers, emerging industrial leaders and established actors in the space industry,” Guérend said. “The collaboration between ArianeGroup and Réaltra Space Systems is a reflection of the potential of Franco-Irish relations in this sector, which is fast becoming a key strategic area of cooperation.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic