An Irish tech company is set to develop systems to support operations on a planned lunar space station that will enable regular trips to the Moon, as well as expeditions further into deep space.
Dublin-based Skytek will deliver software to help crews complete activities – such as science experiments and maintenance tasks – on board the lunar Gateway, after securing a contract with ESA.
The tool will also simplify the complex preparation and validation processes performed on the ground before crews becomes active.
Gateway is an international initiative led by NASA, with ESA as a key partner. Its establishment is a crucial aim of the Artemis programme, which kicked off today with the launch of Artemis I from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA.
The Artemis I mission – which includes important contributions from ESA – is the first in a series of increasingly complex expeditions that aims to return people to the Moon by the end of the decade.
Serving as a staging post for deep space exploration, the Moon-orbiting Gateway will host four-person crews for periods of one to three months at a time.
These missions will help space agencies develop a sustainable lunar presence and gain experience for future missions to Mars.
To complete operational tasks on Gateway, astronauts will carry out numerous step-by-step procedures – and Skytek is developing the technology to support these processes.
The firm has a rich history in space; it delivered systems used on the International Space Station and will build on these technologies as part of the Gateway contract.
The Gateway project aims to develop a suite of software to support both crew activities and ground operations, streamlining thousands of procedures and processes.
It will produce mobile web applications to support daily maintenance and science experiments, as well as decision support software to help astronauts undertake complex and emergency tasks.
Sarah Bourke, Chief Executive of Skytek, said: “The awarding of this contract is testimony to the skill and excellence of our technical team. Working in the space sector has afforded us the opportunity to work at the leading edge of science and technology. Indeed, we have taken this knowledge and successfully transferred it to other sectors including insurance and security.”
Ruediger Seine, ESA’s technical lead for the contract, said: “We are awarding Skytek the contract for the flight data file software suite for the lunar Gateway after open competition. Skytek has decades of experience and a proven track record of developing software for the International Space Station. We look forward to working with Skytek as we send astronauts back to the Moon and beyond. The ground components of the software will also help to make International Space Station operations even more efficient.”