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Irish Technology Plays a Crucial Role In New European Space Agency Vega-C Rocket

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Two Irish based companies, Curtiss-Wright and Realtime Technologies (supported by Enterprise Ireland) have contributed critical technology to the new European Space Agency (ESA) rocket Vega-C, developed by Prime Contractor AVIO, which had a successful inaugural launch today from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

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.

Congratulating the Irish companies in their involvement in the project, Damien English, TD, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, said: “The engagement of Irish companies with the European Space Agency continues to strengthen year on year and is helping to shape the expansion of Europe’s space capability. 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. 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.”

Niall Bolger ESA Programmes Manager, Enterprise Ireland said, “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. 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.”

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