CORK has the opportunity to lead the way in establishing an Irish Space industry, the launch of the nine-week International Space Studies Program at City Hall has heard.
Dr Omar Hatamleh, Chief Innovation Officer at Nasa Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas said: "We have seen previously that the Program can be a catalyst for starting a national Space office."
At last night's launch in City Hall, attended by astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman, the Minister for Skills John Halligan said an Irish company is helping develop the heat shield on a new NASA probe that will fly into the Sun’s atmosphere.
The program is the biggest Space event to ever take place in Ireland or the UK and the first time the world Space industry has convened in Ireland.
It is also one of the largest conferences to ever take place in Cork, worth an estimated €2 million to the local economy.
320 international Space professionals from 25 different countries will participate, including a number of Irish students and businesses who Dr Hatamleh believes can help promote an Irish space industry.
"It doesn't have to be launching rockets or satellites, it can be supporting progress through software, through electronics or robotics."
The organisers are keen to emphasise that involvement is not limited to huge companies.
"The commercial industry used be dominated by big players in the past. But now due to technology and increased access to space, smaller entities and start-ups are getting involved," he said. More on Page 3