ESA Science Core Technology Development Success Story - Fostering European Technology Non-Dependence [Aug/2022]
The development of AQUILA, the first and only European radiation-hardened high-accuracy accelerometer for space use, provides a European navigation solution for upcoming missions, leading to enhanced applications on Earth. ESA chose Ireland’s InnaLabs to develop the rad-hard accelerometer. The project enabled:
Expanding the industrial capabilities of Ireland and Europe
- Expanding the industrial capabilities of Ireland and Europe;
- The development of a highly specialised critical space technology;
- The building of a wider Irish expertise as well as training opportunities: the project brought a niche expertise for a critical mission component to the Irish industry ecosystem;
- A commercial success, with a non-space company that now generates 30% of its revenues in the space sector, and for which the project has enabled the recruitment of 10 full time employees;
- The project also boosts the company’s competitiveness in the high-end terrestrial accelerometer market, estimated to be worth €250 million by 2025;
- The fostering of a broader participation of Irish industry in ESA science missions.
Eliminating European dependence on export-restricted critical technology
ESA having traditionally used American technology developed by Honeywell, as the only supplier of space (i.e., radiation-hard) accelerometers, created significant reliance on non-European technology on two fronts: the dependence on Honeywell’s ability to supply the instrument and its pricing, and the dependence on the US government’s ITAR export control rules. The development of AQUILA through CTP is building a new European champion, as the Irish company becomes the sole European provider of rad-hard high accuracy accelerometers.
Increasing European space industry competitiveness
Through the project, CTP has further facilitated future European missions, notably space science missions , also supporting a longer lifespan of spacecraft. The now European-developed solution provides technological non-dependence from previously export-restricted technology, therefore increasing European competitiveness with high accuracy, restriction-free, and cost-saving solution for both space and terrestrial users.
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This initiative is led by ESA’s Science Core Technology Programme. More information can be accessed at ESA - Science Core Technology Programme (CTP).