Ireland has been an active member of the European Space Agency (ESA) since 1980 and our industrial base has benefited from technology development and our society from technology transfer to such an extent that the government investment of tax payer’s money in space has been more than returned through the successful commercialisation of space technology. Many Irish companies (e.g. Parthus, Intune Networks, EnBio) have developed core technology through engagement with ESA and subsequently commercialised technology in multi-million export driven businesses. The striking aspect of the space sector is that it is growing consistently in almost all areas globally. Currently the space sector has a 7% annual growth rate which is four times the rate of average economic growth. The recently established Space Industry Group, including Lorraine Hanlon, is working with colleagues on developing a strategy for growing industry engagement within the space sector.
Space-based platforms support a wide and growing range of infrastructures that underpin navigation, communication, entertainment, agriculture, meteorology and time-keeping. Many downstream civilian and governmental critical infrastructures (e.g. banking and transport) are reliant on these platforms. Development of a European program to protect space assets has enormous societal benefit.