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Some very bright Irish people are set for placements with the European Space Agency

The numbers employed in the space industry here are set to double to over 1,000 according to the agency.

2909494006_3590de88ea_o Source: Sids1

A NEW PARTNERSHIP announced today will see 10 Irish people embark on training programmes hosted by the European Space Agency (ESA) across Europe in the coming years.

The partnership between the ESA and the Irish Research Council (IRC) was announced today with the director general  of ESA Jan Woerner in attendance.

Whether or not the training programmes will lead to some bona fide Irish astronauts is unknown, although the IRC is justifiably excited at the prospect of Irish trainees taking part in elite European space projects.

Over the next five years the ESA will host up to 10 Irish trainees on projects involving human spaceflight and the launch and operation of unmanned exploration missions to the moon and other planets.

NO FEE RESEARCH SPACE 3 Eucharia Meehan and Jan Woerner Source: Marc O'Sullivan

“We’re very excited about this opportunity to get people into cutting edge research,” Eucharia Meehan, director of the IRC, told TheJournal.ie.

The idea is to give these trainees exposure to the type of cutting-edge research needed to enable human space flight among other things, so that when they come back they will bring that level of high-end experience with them.

Meehan acknowledges that the details of the training-placements themselves are not as yet entirely fleshed out – however, working with a space agency is a vocation which normally applies to the sharpest minds imaginable.

“We can’t wait to get people out there,” she said. “We’re very, very excited about this opportunity.”

The placements will be open to Irish holders of postgraduate qualifications in science and engineering who can apply through an annual competitive process run by the IRC.

“Ireland is a committed and active participant in ESA activities, achieving economic benefits, innovation and growth through its membership.  The agreement being signed today represents a further step in this strong relationship,” Woerner said today at the launch of the scheme.

IrelandÕs investment in European Space Agency expected to double employment in the space sector to over 1,000 high value technology jobs in Irish industry over the next four years Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Woerner Source: Colm Mahady/Fennells

The ESA chief earlier told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about the agency’s plans to establish a “moon village”, which would see co-operation between international agencies in maintaining a permanent human foothold on the moon.

Earlier, Ireland’s jobs ministry claimed it expects Irish investment in the ESA to double the number of high-value technical jobs in the space industry here to more than 1,000 by the year 2020.

“This is an exciting time for the Irish space industry and with the support of my Department and Enterprise Ireland the Irish space sector is set to expand at an unprecedented rate over the next few years,” said minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

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