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What We Do

European Space Agency

Ireland manages its investment in space primarily through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) and Enterprise Ireland.

National Space Strategy for Enterprise 2019-2025

The National Space Strategy for Enterprise 2019-2025, published on 19 June 2019, establishes a framework for supporting and growing Irish involvement in the rapidly growing global space sector.

Since Ireland joined the European Space Agency in 1975, Irish industry and research groups have been at the heart of Europe’s space missions, building a reputation as providers of innovative technologies for use in the European space programme.

From the development of technology for use on board the International Space Station and point of-care diagnostic technology used to assess the impact of space travel on the health of astronauts, to developing highly innovative uses of satellite systems, including connecting isolated forests to communications systems, Irish companies are at the leading edge of innovation and technological development in the space sector.

Ireland’s annual investment in ESA (circa €20m per annum) is directly aligned with the strategy and objectives of Enterprise Ireland to develop the R&D capability of Irish industry and support the creation of high potential start-up companies and with IDA Ireland’s strategy to attract foreign direct investment. 

In recent years Ireland has seen strong growth in this sector, in both established space companies and in new entrants. 87 Irish companies are now working with ESA to develop technologies for the institutional and commercial space markets as well as using space products to develop downstream applications and technologies with non-space applications.

Irish companies, scientists and researchers also engage in exciting opportunities with the European Space Agency through the involvement in high profile science missions such Rosetta. The European spacecraft, Rosetta, became the first ever to rendezvous with and place a lander on a comet, a landmark for space exploration in a decade-long mission that scientists hope will help unlock some of the secrets of the solar system. Several Irish companies were involved in building parts of the craft and Irish scientists were also involved in the research and control aspects of the mission.

High-profile scientific space missions with Irish contributions include ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission which launched in 2020 and NASA’s James Webb Telescope, which is due to launch in 2021.

Enterprise Ireland coordinates both Ireland’s industrial and research participation in the programmes of the European Space Agency. Further information on the growing space related capabilities in Irish industry and research community can be found at enterprise-ireland.com/space.

Space in Ireland provides additional information on Ireland’s engagement with the European Space Agency.

European Union space activities

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment engages at European level in relation to EU space activities. The Department’s overall objective with regard to space is to create a favourable environment for Irish SMEs and start-ups to participate and thrive in EU Space Programmes and the space component of the Horizon Europe Programme. Additional information on European Union space activities can be found at links below.

EU Space Policy

EU Space Programme

Horizon Europe

EU Space Regulation