Monday 10 December 2018

Ireland told to launch its own agency in space race

A European Space Agency rocket lifts off in French Guiana
A European Space Agency rocket lifts off in French Guiana
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Ireland needs to develop its own space agency, an international space studies programme in Cork has urged. Ireland has more than 30 companies which contribute to the space market in the areas of electronics, software and propulsion, precision engineering and advanced materials.

The call for an agency was among the recommendations of a roadmap for the future of the space industry in Ireland.

Innovation junior minister John Halligan with Niall Smith, Cork Institute of Technology, and Jan Woerner, director general of the European Space Agency, at Blackrock Observatory in Cork
Innovation junior minister John Halligan with Niall Smith, Cork Institute of Technology, and Jan Woerner, director general of the European Space Agency, at Blackrock Observatory in Cork

The 110 participants on the programme, which took place over a nine-week period, produced a report 'A Roadmap for Emerging Space States' (ARESS) which it launched yesterday.

Along with providing a blueprint for Ireland to build and expand space sector capacity, the report also looks at why nations would want to pursue involvement in space, and addresses what it sees are the downsides of not developing the sector.

Among the key recommendations are that Ireland establish a national space agency to develop policy for the country and coordinate the Irish space sector in line with strategic goals.

The ARESS report also recommends that Ireland join the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and other international bodies.

By not being a member of such organisations Ireland may be hindering its space sector development in the medium to long term by impeding or diminishing international cooperation or technology transfer programmes. Other recommendations include increasing investment in space-related science, technology, engineering, and math education, and the creation of greater incentives for people to participate in space science and engineering programmes.

The report also suggests encouraging strategically focused private industry to engage in space-related activities that promote Irish technologies and economic growth.

The publication of the report comes after Ireland recently increased its commitment to the European Space Agency (ESA) to €90m for the 2016-2020 period, as an investment in growing space-related industries in Ireland.

According to a spokesperson for the programme, the ARESS report is crucial to help chart the way forward for Irish industries to get involved in the global space industry.

Ireland has been a member state of the ESA since 1975, with the primary focus of developing Irish businesses for the global space industry and ensuring economic and societal benefits.

Enterprise Ireland co-ordinates Ireland's industrial and research participation in the ESA.

Irish Independent

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