ÉireComposites, a Connemara-based specialist manufacturer, has won a contract to design and manufacture equipment for a satellite in what is a major milestone for Irish participation in space exploration.
Belgian company OIP Sensor Systems has asked the Galway group to design and produce three carbon-fibre stray light baffles that will form part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Altius satellite.
The baffles will be attached to the side of the satellite, which is to be launched into space from French Guiana by the end of 2023. The baffles prevent stray light from reaching the lenses of the satellite's optical instruments.
They will be the first external part and the largest functioning piece of equipment to be manufactured in Ireland and launched into space.
The ESA’s space mission is intended to take a deeper look at the stratospheric ozone to gain scientific understanding on how the rise in greenhouse gases affects the atmosphere.
A €75 million contract for the satellite was recently awarded to British company QinetiQ and OIP, which co-lead a pan-European consortium.
ÉireComposites, which is based in Inverin, Connemara, was founded in 1998 and has about 60 employees. The company has a composites manufacturing and testing facility in the Gaeltacht village that produces equipment for a number of sectors, including aerospace, renewables, automotive, space and the marine.
Among its clients are aircraft manufacturer Bombardier and Manna Aero, the Irish drone delivery start-up, for which it has designed parts.
It is a long-term partner of the ESA, working on projects such as the development of a novel grid-stiffened lattice demonstrator for a launch vehicle in conjunction with fellow Co Galway company, ATG Innovation.
“Our equipment will make sure that good images are taken that aren’t ruined by stray light,” said Tomás Flanagan, ÉireComposites’s chief executive.
“This is a massive achievement for the company and it builds on the work we’ve done over the last 10 years in the space sector. We’ve previously worked on research and prototypes for the ESA and doing that has led to us developing something for use externally in space for the first time. We are all very excited to be working on this project,” he said.