Irish tech company to provide software for planned lunar space station

Dublin-based Skytek wins contract with Nasa and European Space Agency

An Irish company will provide one of the software cornerstones for a space station orbiting the moon that Nasa and the European Space Agency hope to establish following the recent successful launch of Nasa’s Artemis rocket.

Dublin-based Skytek has been awarded a contract by the agency to provide flight support software for the Gateway space station. That orbiting platform is not intended to be constantly crewed, like the international space station orbiting Earth. Instead, it will be a kind of lunar Airbnb, with crews working for three or four-month stints in lunar orbit, assisting manned missions to the surface, and eventually providing support for missions to Mars.

Dr Sarah Bourke, Skytek’s chief executive, said: “The awarding of this contract is testimony to the skill and excellence of our technical team. Working in the space sector has afforded us the opportunity to work at the leading edge of science and technology. We have taken this knowledge and successfully transferred it to other sectors including insurance and security.”

Skytek’s contribution to Gateway will be a software system to help astronauts with the day-to-day operations of the station, building on the wealth of knowledge accumulated from running the international space station.


Skytek’s international procedural viewer technology is already in orbit on the space station, and will form the basis of the Gateway project. Skytek says it will “provide mobile web applications to support daily maintenance and support scientific activities [as well as] critical decision support software to assist the astronaut to undertake complex and emergency tasks”.

Paul Kiernan, Skytek’s chief technical officer, said: “The technology which Skytek will develop for Gateway will include the latest in augmented reality-based applications supporting the complex operations astronauts will have to perform on board the Gateway.”

The development of the software will take place at Skytek’s three main locations in Dublin, Poland, and London.

Dr Rüdiger Seine, ESA’s head of astronaut training, said: “We are awarding Skytek the contract for the flight data file software suite for the Lunar Gateway after open competition. 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 [international space station] operations even more efficient.”

On November 15th Nasa’s Artemis rocker, topped with an unmanned Orion capsule, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida in the first stage of a return to the moon after a generation. If everything goes smoothly, humans should be setting foot on the moon again by 2024, and on Mars by 2040.

Gateway, and its Irish-based software, will become a crucial stepping stone.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring