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Rocketman starts countdown for Belfast to enter space race

NORTHERN Ireland's space race has received a boost with the appointment of a local man to the head of a company hoping to build rockets in Belfast.

Paul Sinton has been made managing director of European Space Propulsion (ESP), an Aerojet Rocketdyne company.

He will manage and direct the operations of ESP as it develops manufacturing and test capabilities for producing propulsion products in the European market. Plans are for operational manufacturing to be ready early in 2014.

The company is a new entrant to the European space propulsion market and provides Aerojet Rocketdyne products and services for in-space propulsion in partnership with Thales Air Defense Ltd, also based in Belfast.

Mr Sinton has more than 27 years of experience in analysis, test and senior program management with Thales Air Defense.

He is a graduate of Queen's University Belfast with a Bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering and a Master of Science in Major Project Management from Newcastle University.

Aerojet Rocketdyne vice president of space systems, Warren Yasuhara, said Mr Sinton would lead the company into the next steps towards full manufacturing and test capability.

He said: "Hiring Paul represents the next step in our commitment to a strong European identity and leveraging Aerojet Rocketdyne's legacy of propulsion and international collaboration to lower costs and enhance customer support."

Belfast Telegraph