Collaboration is key to future of Space Industry in Ireland

IT is a sector that is growing in popularity and demand, and one that will offer huge potential and opportunities for SMEs looking to enter the space industry across Ireland. That’s according to industry experts following the ‘Growing the Space Industry in Ireland’ webinar, hosted by the Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space (ADS) Group earlier this month.

The space industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, with commercial sales by companies in Ireland soaring from €75m in 2015 to €133m in 2020. The Irish Government launched its first National Space Strategy for Enterprise in 2019 with the aim of doubling space industry activity by 2025, and the UK is launching their own strategy for Space in June, which aims to secure 10% of the total global market share by 2030.

Northern Ireland has also engaged in a Northern Ireland Space Strategy to create a firm and realistic foundation from which to grow the space sector and enhance the region’s standing in the space community.

With the increasing demand for products and services to support the growing industry, collaboration, in addition to innovation and knowledge, will be key to maximising the opportunities that are available and achieving the full potential of the space industry across the Island, as demonstrated by the recent webinar, which featured speakers from Airbus, European Space, Enterprise Ireland, Invest NI and companies from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

One local company, Resonate Testing in Newry, has become a prominent figure in the industry after initially conducting testing on the Réaltra Space Systems Engineering launcher Video Telemetry system that will provide on-board telemetry from a launch vehicle due to travel to outer space in 2022.

Following the shutdown of global travel as a result of the pandemic, Réaltra was unable to carry out the required environmental qualification testing in the European test centres they had previously used. Requiring a niche, high quality testing campaign, the company reached out to Resonate Testing.

Resonate Testing did not have the capability to perform the complex SRS shock testing required but adapted its services and developed an in-house shock test capability in support of Réaltra and the wider space community on the island of Ireland.

Speaking about the collaboration, Danny Gleeson, Chief Commercial Office at Réaltra said, “During the global pandemic, we were faced with difficulties in accessing test facilities due to travel restrictions. We contacted Resonate Testing following a recommendation on their expertise and reputation for delivering high-quality testingat their Centre of Excellence in Newry, only an hour away from us in Dublin. Thanks to their knowledge and innovative processes, we were able to collaborate to complete the shock test qualification locally, maintaining the schedule to support our customer’s needs.

Danny continued, “Our experience with Resonate Testing has been excellent and we have now established a successful, collaborative and innovative test partnership on the island of Ireland, which is very important to our business going forward. In addition, Resonate Testing is investigating the expansion of their collaboration with Space Industry Skillnet to develop training and support to companies on the Island of Ireland to improve their success with test programmes. We are looking forward to continuing our work together in future projects.”

Tom Mallon, Managing Director of Resonate Testing said, “There is so much potential and opportunity within the Irish Space Industry Cluster, whether it’s in upstream or downstream products or services. Innovation is key to what we do and when Danny [Gleeson] approached us, we knew this was something that our team had the capability of doing, so we put a plan in place using our collaborative knowledge and the result was the successful implementation and execution of the testing service.

“This capability will assist space companies in shortening their development cycles from prototype tests to full space qualification test campaigns. We’re looking forward to being a part of this exciting sector moving forward and the opportunities that it will bring.”

Chair of ADS Space Special Interest Group, Robert Hill, who hosted the webinar, spoke about the benefits of collaboration as evidenced by Réaltra and Resonate Testing. Robert said, “The recent webinar was an excellent event enabling many companies to come together and hear what is possible when you work together.

“The collaboration between Réaltra and Resonate Testing has shown how the Island of Ireland can thrive when we work together. We want to do everything in our power to develop the Island as a globally recognised place for space sector innovation and creativity, and with companies like Resonate Testing stepping up to the mark to provide innovative solutions, we are well on our way.”

As of 2021, there are over 80 companies involved in the Space sector across the Island of Ireland. The growing interest in the sector was evident by the large number of attendees at the webinar – the first in a series looking at how to further develop the Space Industry across the Island of Ireland. It is hoped that the next event will take place in the Autumn.