Irish space tech company Skytek Takes Off with Artemis

Skytek has been awarded a significant contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop flight support software for the newGateway space station, an essential element of their ambition to bring a European to the Moon by 2030.

Gateway is an international initiative led by two main contributors, NASA (United States) and ESA (Europe). It is one of the pillars of NASA’s Artemis program, supporting a sustainable presence on the Moon and exploration beyond.

The announcement of the contract for Skytek comes after Artemis 1, the most powerful space rocket in history, launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida (today) Wednesday. The spacecraft, comprising the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule, is on a 25-day, 1.3m-mile journey to the moon and back.

The Gateway space station is not intended for permanent occupancy but will be able to host 4-person crews for periods of one to three months. Gaining new experience around the Moon will prepare international partner space agencies to send the first humans to Mars by 2040: the Gateway will play a vital role in this process.

Commenting, Dr Ruediger Seine, ESA Head of Astronaut training, 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 ISS operations even more efficient.”  

Dr Sarah Bourke, Skytek CEO, 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.”

The overall aim of the Flight Data File (FDF) Lunar Gateway Software is to provide Gateway operation using innovative solutions that will capitalise on the decades of experience of ISS operations. The software suite is aimed at supporting both ground operations and crew activities. The project will develop a suite of software tools to support both ODF and FDF procedures and provide a complete end-to-end solution.

The Skytek project will streamline the authoring of thousands of crew procedures and processes; it will provide mobile web applications to support daily maintenance and support scientific activities. Finally, it will provide critical decision support software to assist the astronaut to undertake complex and emergency tasks.  Currently, Skytek’s IPV (International Procedural Viewer) technology is a core component of International Space Station operations, with over 60,000 Open Data File (ODF) procedures guiding and supporting astronaut activity.

The new project will build on this current system. Paul Kiernan, Skytek CTO said: “The technology which Skytek will develop for Gateway will include the latest in Augmented Reality based applications supporting the complex operations which astronauts will have to perform on board the Gateway.”

Skytek has expanded significantly over the past few years, and Gateway software development will be undertaken at Skytek’s three European operations in Ireland, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

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