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Jet engine company thrusting forward in space race

A NEW group has been set up in Northern Ireland aimed at developing the multi-billion pound space industry here.

The inaugural meeting of the Northern Ireland Space Special Interest Group today will bring together industry and academia representatives to collaborate and raise awareness of opportunities available to companies in the province.

The group has been organised by ADS, the trade body for the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors in Northern Ireland.

The meeting at the Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering centre (NIACE), will include a presentation from Invest NI on the space industry here.

There will also be presentations on the UK Satellite Applications Catapult and from the European Space Propulsion company which is currently being established in Belfast.

Robert Hill, chair of the new NISSIG said that the world wide space sector is estimated to grow to over $400bn (£250bn) by 2030.

"The UK government has set an ambitious goal of capturing 10% of that market," he said.

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"I have no doubt that we have the skills, capabilities and entrepreneurial, innovative spirit in our research and industrial base that can help deliver this ambitious goal.

"By forming NISSIG we will create a voice that will raise awareness of the fantastic capabilities that our province can provide to develop this exciting sector."

Dr Leslie Orr, ADS manager for Northern Ireland added: "This is about growing the space industry in Northern Ireland."

European Space Propulsion, which is owned by US firm Aerojet Rocketdyne, was established this year and has entered a partnership with Thales UK, aiming to provide a range of products and services to the European space industry.

Eight highly paid sales and engineering executive positions will be created at ESP over the next two years, contributing almost £1m in salaries to the Northern Ireland economy. Under contract with ESP, Thales will manufacture space propulsion thrusters and associated services.

This week local man Paul Sinton was made managing director at ESP, with plans for operational manufacturing to be ready to roll in 2014.


ESP will be contributing almost £1m in salaries to the economy