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ÉireComposites to design parts for space satellite set for ozone mission

ÉireComposites, an innovative design, manufacturing and testing company based in Co. Galway, has today announced an agreement with the Belgian company, OIP Sensor Systems to design and produce stray light baffles, which will form part of the European Space Agency’s ALTIUS satellite. The baffles will be the first external part and largest functioning piece of equipment ever to be manufactured in Ireland and launched into space.

The stray light baffles will prevent out-of-field stray light from reaching the lenses of the satellite’s optical instruments; instead, a system with periscope mirrors will be used to align the light. Stray light baffles rely upon highly controlled and precise manufacturing and finishing. ÉireComposites will manufacture the three baffles that will be attached to the side of the satellite to assist with the mission objective.

OIP forms part of a consortium that signed the contract with the European Space Agency to build this satellite which is expected to be launched by the end of 2026 from French Guiana. The mission will deliver profiles of the stratospheric ozone, as well as profiles of other atmospheric trace gases. This will provide scientific understanding on how the rise in greenhouse gases affects the atmosphere.

Speaking on today’s announcement, Tomás Flanagan, ÉireComposites CEO said; “The ALTIUS satellite will signal a major milestone for Irish participation in space exploration as the three stray light baffles will become the first optical instruments manufactured in Ireland and the largest satellite parts manufactured in this country. I am delighted that OIP wants to work with ÉireComposites on this project. This is a massive achievement for the company
and I hope this will be the first of many parts we manufacture for space exploration missions.”

“The ALTIUS mission will play a substantial role in how we look at climate change and the impact it has on Earth. The mission will allow for long-term monitoring and scientific study of the protective ozone layer which covers Earth and inform decisions around climate change. I am excited that we will be part of this research and I would like to take the opportunity to commend the team here in Inverin that have contributed to our success in obtaining this contract.”

Freddy Versluys, CEO of OIP on both the ÉireComposites’ involvement and the ALTIUS mission: “ALTIUS is an important, challenging and very interesting project, allowing our company to contribute to very actual studies related to climate change. The objective is to provide means to monitor the Earth’s atmosphere. OIP, being the industrial prime contractor for the payload, is responsible for the design, integration, alignment and testing of the ALTIUS instrument. Today, we gladly announce that ÉireComposites was carefully selected as our new associate to handle the carbon fibre baffles part, in order to assist us in the further progress of the project. We trust to establish a solid working cooperation with fruitful, positive results. Good luck to our new partner!”

The work ÉireComposites is undertaking is funded by the European Space Agency with support from Enterprise Ireland. Winning this work was possible because of the heritage developed by ÉireComposites from carrying out research and development in materials and processes for the European Space Agency. This has been a focus of ÉireComposites over the last decade, through projects such as the development of a novel grid-stiffened lattice
demonstrator for a launch-vehicle in conjunction with ATG Innovation, an engineering services company to the European Space sector, also based in Co. Galway.

Welcoming the announcement, Tom Kelly, Manager of the Innovation and Competitiveness Division at Enterprise Ireland, stated that; “this contract win by ÉireComposites demonstrates the capacity of Irish technology companies to compete in the highly challenging Space market. It also reflects the Government’s National Space Strategy for Enterprise to develop a cluster of Irish Space technology companies through its ongoing investment in the European Space Agency.”

Also commenting on the impact of today’s announcement, Mark de Faoite, Director of Enterprise, Employment &  Property, at Údarás na Gaeltachta said; “This is a great achievement for the team at ÉireComposites. We are proud to be supporting this company which is contributing to the economic development of the region with the creation of quality jobs in the Irish-speaking region of the Connemara Gaeltacht. The accomplishment of being
selected to work with OIP on a European Space Agency mission and manufacturing Ireland’s first optical instrument on a working satellite is massive and is a great testament to the talent of the team and to the employees in the Gaeltacht. We are thrilled to play a small part in the journey from Inverin to space.”

About ÉireComposites:

Established in 1998, ÉireComposites is an innovative design, manufacturing and testing company, involved in lightweight, high performance fibre-reinforced composite materials, with an international blue-chip customer base of over 70 companies in aerospace,
renewable energy, marine, Formula 1 racing and general automotive sectors. As a leader in designing and manufacturing composite materials, ÉireComposites has extensive experience, state-of-the-art facilities, and advanced design capabilities as a one stop shop for composites process- and product development. The company is based in Inverin, Galway with a 6000m2 fully accredited facility and employs over 60 people.

About OIP:
OIP nv (trade name “OIP Sensor Systems”) was established in 1919 as ‘Optique et Instruments de Précision’ in Ghent (BE) and already celebrated its 100th anniversary. Today, the company is located in Oudenaarde and employs about 100 people. OIP Sensor Systems is a leader in the field of design, development &  production of electro-optical systems for Defence, Aerospace, Homeland Security and High-end Industrial markets, serving a variety of different applications.

As a result of the continuously expanding success of OIP’s Space activities, it has been a strategic decision to launch the OIP Space Instruments Business Unit in 2021; putting its focus on planetary observation, scientific programs and technological research.
OIP Space Instruments can look back at an extensive experience and is eager to pursue innovation, continual improvement and excelling in customer experience, while paying special attention to precision, accuracy, reliability and cost effectiveness. Meanwhile, OIP Space Instruments is a trusted partner to design and deliver electro-optical high-end customised spaceborne solutions for international development projects.

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