Irish space firm Skytek to help put a European on the moon by 2030

Dublin firm Skytek wins significant European Space Agency contract to develop flight support software for new Gateway space station.

Europe’s space ambitions took one step closer to the moon with news that an Irish tech firm will play a pivotal role in putting a European on the moon by 2030.

The Dublin tech firm will develop flight support software for the new Gateway space station, an essential element in fulfilling this ambition.

“Working in the space sector has afforded us the opportunity to work at the leading edge of science and technology”

Gateway is an international initiative led by two main contributors, NASA (United States) and ESA (Europe). It is one of the pillars of NASA’s Artemis program, supporting a sustainable presence on the Moon and exploration beyond. 

Lift off


The announcement of the contract for Skytek comes after Artemis 1, the most powerful space rocket in history, launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida (today) Wednesday. The spacecraft, comprising the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule, is on a 25-day, 1.3m-mile journey to the moon and back.

The Gateway space station is not intended for permanent occupancy but will be able to host 4-person crews for periods of one to three months. Gaining new experience around the Moon will prepare international partner space agencies to send the first humans to Mars by 2040: the Gateway will play a vital role in this process.

“We are awarding Skytek the contract for the Flight Data File software suite for the Lunar Gateway after open competition,” said Dr Ruediger Seine, ESA head of Astronaut training.

“Skytek has decades of experience and a proven track record of developing software for the International Space Station. We look forward to working with Skytek as we send astronauts back to the Moon and beyond. The ground components of the software will also help to make ISS operations even more efficient.”

The overall aim of the Flight Data File (FDF) Lunar Gateway Software is to provide Gateway operation using innovative solutions that will capitalise on the decades of experience of ISS operations. The software suite is aimed at supporting both ground operations and crew activities. The project will develop a suite of software tools to support both ODF and FDF procedures and provide a complete end-to-end solution.   

The Skytek project will streamline the authoring of thousands of crew procedures and processes; it will provide mobile web applications to support daily maintenance and support scientific activities. Finally, it will provide critical decision support software to assist the astronaut to undertake complex and emergency tasks.  Currently, Skytek’s IPV (International Procedural Viewer) technology is a core component of International Space Station operations, with over 60,000 Open Data File (ODF) procedures guiding and supporting astronaut activity. 

“The awarding of this contract is testimony to the skill and excellence of our technical team,” said Skytek CEO Dr Sarah Bourke.

“Working in the space sector has afforded us the opportunity to work at the leading edge of science and technology. Indeed, we have taken this knowledge and successfully transferred it to other sectors including insurance and security.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.