Belfast Telegraph

Newry firm reaching for the stars with Nasa link-up

Relationship: Brian Conlon
Relationship: Brian Conlon
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

First Derivatives has announced its technology is to be used by Nasa for two big projects in the space sector.

The firm's Kx technology and its data analytics prowess - which the Newry-based business now owns outright after a major deal - will be supporting global missions by the US agency.

It will be working with Nasa's Frontier Development Lab (FDL) and space research organisation the SETI Institute.

One project will involve Kx applying Global Navigation Satellite Systems data to monitor solar activity, which is critical to how GPS signals work.

The announcement comes after a pilot scheme between Kx and FDL last year.

First Derivatives, led by chief executive and founder Brian Conlon, said: "The ability to utilise the power of these real-time insights will be critical to the future of space traffic and spacecraft management, filling a crucial gap in knowledge for the future of commercial space operations."

The second challenge will be to search for planets that orbit around other stars.

Kx will be using artificial intelligence to automate analysis as part of the Nasa search.

A week ago First Derivatives announced it would acquire its remaining stake of Kx shares for $53.8m.

The company said: "This kind of partnership with Nasa further emphasises the value of the Kx technology, which First Derivatives will now own."

Mr Conlon added: "We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with the Nasa FDL team and other great partners.

"The ultra-high performance capabilities of Kx technology make it the ideal platform to address space challenges, from Earth observation to space weather.

"This mission demonstrates the power and scalability of Kx technology."

James Parr, a director of FDL, said: "Kx was early to build expertise in deriving insights from time-series data using AI. This has made them valuable partners for FDL-style science applications, where rapid insight is a key value proposition."

Belfast Telegraph