Dr. Niall Smith, and Seán Kelly MEP, on Ireland’s Future in New Space

“(Dec 2018): Dr. Niall Smith speaking with MEP Seán Kelly in the European Parliament following a briefing at which he presented updates on Ireland’s involvement in the rapidly evolving global space industry. Dr. Smith explains why now is the time for Ireland to work closely with our European friends to use space to solve some of the biggest societal challenges of our time.” Niall Smith is Head of Research at Cork Institute of Technology and Head of Blackrock Castle Observatory”.

Space is becoming more accessible with every passing day. The technology that we carry around in our pockets, is more powerful than much of the technology that first put humans on the Moon. The technology needed to effectively exploit the resources space offers is becoming more advanced, more accessible, and more compact – and in so doing, it is approaching a “sweet spot” whereby investment in Space is becoming a realistic and affordable opportunity for countries such as Ireland. As Dr Niall Smith mentions in conversation with Seán Kelly MEP, modern satellites that are essentially no bigger than a football, can match and even exceed the performance of satellites that would have been the size of a car only a decade ago.

The opportunities afforded to Ireland by this emergent sector cannot be understated. Ireland already has a world-leading workforce in tangential industries that can be put to the task of competing in this new market with minimal upskilling. Pressing challenges such as data security, inter-satellite communications, and on-board processing are already well within our grasp.

The infrastructure we rely on is forever evolving, and we must be congisant of the role the Space sector will play as we move forward. The delivery of rural broadband is a prime example of how satellites can overcome current infrastructural inefficiencies, and can improve existing services, while also affording us the opportunity to bring this infrastructure to regions where the technology serves a humanitarian function.

Cork Institute of Technology and CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, are acutely aware of the tremendous opportunities that Ireland is being presented with, and we will continue to work with Government and Industry partners to ensure that Ireland avails of these opportunities, and takes its rightful place as a world leader in the New Space sector.

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