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Major development for Irish space sector as UCD launches Space Centre

Tuesday, 15 December, 2020

University College Dublin: Today UCD launched C-Space, the UCD Centre for Space Research, a first-of-its-kind dedicated hub of excellence for interdisciplinary collaborative space-related research, innovation and education in Ireland. By building on nationally leading projects such as EIRSAT-1, Ireland’s first satellite, C-Space will be a key national resource for space expertise and training.

The centre will focus on current key space research themes, in which UCD has established leadership, including: Astrophysics; Earth Observation; Gamma-ray Detectors; Nanosatellites and Payloads; Space Materials and Space Structure Dynamics and Control.

The core research is also underpinned by a cross-cutting industry support facility, to ensure a broad, positive impact for society and the economy from C-Space’s activities.

(L_R) Assistant Prof Morgan Fraser, UCD School of Physics (Astrophysics Theme Lead), Dr Ronan Wall, C-Space Programme Manager (Industry Theme Lead), Associate Prof Sheila McBreen, UCD School of Physics (Gamma-Ray Detectors Theme Lead), Prof Lorraine Hanlon, UCD School of Physics (C-Space Director and Nanosatellites & Payloads Theme Lead), Prof Kenneth Stanton, UCD School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Space Materials Theme Lead), Assistant Prof David McKeown, UCD School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering (Space Structure Dynamics & Control Theme Lead).
Not pictured: Assoc Prof. Francesco Pilla, School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, Earth Observation Theme Lead

Centre Director, Prof Lorraine Hanlon, UCD School of Physics, said: “As well as performing excellent space-related fundamental and applied interdisciplinary research, our purpose is also to build academic and industrial partnerships that advance the use of space to address global scientific and societal challenges.”

UCD Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact Prof Orla Feely welcomed the centre’s launch: “We are delighted and proud to launch UCD’s new space centre which is an important step in Ireland’s journey to develop a strong and sustainable space industry. UCD has a distinguished record in astrophysics and space research dating from the 1960s and continuing to the present day with the development of EIRSAT-1, Ireland’s first satellite. With the launch of C-Space, UCD will build our academic and industry relationships across the global space sector, developing our talent at home and maximising for Ireland the many technological and economic opportunities in this exciting field.”

From GPS tracking that enables the global shipping industry, to monitoring crop yields and managing food supply, the space sector plays an increasingly important role in daily life. Space contributes approx. €80 billion to the European economy annually. There are currently many sectors and businesses that rely on space systems and space data, including Financial Services, and their number will increase dramatically in the next 10 years – with the evolution of new future networks-enabled technologies such as driverless cars, remote robotic surgery and automated agriculture.

Welcoming the announcement, Tom Kelly, Divisional Manager, Innovation and Competitiveness, Enterprise Ireland said: “The launch of the UCD C-Space Centre comes at an exciting time. Enterprise Ireland works closely with Irish companies to successfully bid for ESA contracts and we have seen the steady growth of Irish companies developing highly innovative technologies for the European Space programme and the wider global market. This also fits well with the Government Space strategy for Enterprise which specifically identifies the need to develop and attract talent with relevant skills for Irish Space-Active enterprises.” 

C-Space will support industry through consultancy, collaborations and access to test facilities. In addition, the centre will help to ensure that industry needs are met through university-based courses such as a Masters Degree programme in Space Science and Technology and Continuing Professional Development courses.

Chair of the Irish Space Industry Group Danny Gleeson commented: “Ireland’s growing space sector is creating high value jobs that require people with specific skill sets to enable Irish space companies to succeed in the global marketplace. We wholeheartedly welcome the establishment of the UCD Centre for Space Research and its commitment to produce graduates and professional training courses to meet the demands of the expanding Irish space sector and supporting the Government’s National Space Strategy for Enterprise.”

The UCD C-Space virtual launch event featured a line-up of prominent speakers, including: Prof Michael Rast, Head of Earth Observation Science Strategy at the European Space Agency (ESA); Prof Malcolm Macdonald, Founding Director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications and Prof Lorraine Hanlon, Director of C-Space at UCD.

UCD College of Engineering and Architecture

Room 122 & Room 126, UCD Engineering and Materials Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
T: +353 1 716 1868 | E: eng.arch@ucd.ie