Space tech developed by Irish-based firms could have crucial role to play in solving real issues on our planet.
Two Irish-based companies Curtiss-Wright and Realtime Technologies have contributed critical technology to the new European Space Agency (ESA) rocket Vega-C which launched yesterday from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
The rocket on which the Irish companies technology was aboard was launched by Prime Contractor AVIO.
“Ireland’s membership of the ESA is a springboard for innovation and the development of advanced technologies and growth in highly skilled jobs”
The Vega-C rocket represents a dramatic capability boost compared to its predecessor, Vega, which has flown since 2012. Among the enhanced capabilities are a longer operational time in space, facilitating extended missions.
The mid-sized Vega-C launcher is designed to deliver government, commercial, and science payloads with a mass of 3000kg or less, such as small satellite constellations to low-earth orbit. As this market is especially cost sensitive, ESA’s goal is for the Vega-C launcher to serve as a next-generation launch vehicle that is able to support the same or greater mission objectives as the original Vega launcher, but at reduced cost.
Dublin-based Curtiss-Wright was awarded a contract in 2017 by AVIO, the prime contractor for the Vega-C launcher development, to provide the new rocket with a telemetry system, including data acquisition, data handling, and RF transmission to ground. The contract also represented the first use of Curtiss-Wright’s ground-breaking radiation tolerant Smart Backplane technology on a European launch vehicle.
Realtime Technologies plays an important role in providing space qualified manufacturing services for the Curtiss-Wright functional telemetry system for the Vega-C launch vehicle based on its cost-effective Space COTS KAM500 based data acquisition system.
“I am proud of the growing cohort of local innovative SMEs involved, many of whom are directly engaged in developing the technology that drives the next generation of space transportation and satellite systems,” said Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English, TD.
“Many others are utilising the science and data gathered from space to develop innovation solutions to pressing issues on our planet. Ireland’s membership of the ESA is a springboard for innovation and the development of advanced technologies and growth in highly skilled jobs and I am glad to see leading Irish companies contributing to the development and successful launch of Vega-C.”
Both Curtiss-Wright and Realtime Technologies are Enterprise Ireland-supported businesses.
“Enterprise Ireland assists innovative Irish companies to develop their relationship with the ESA and the contribution by Irish companies to today’s successful launch is evidence of the value this relationship can bring,” said Niall Bolger ESA Programmes Manager, Enterprise Ireland.
“In addition to providing technology for space missions, Irish companies are increasingly playing a significant role in utilising the data and satellite infrastructure developed by ESA to deliver solutions across a range of applications including patient care, forestry management, and environmental enhancement.”