Karen Tocher, business tourism manager at Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau, takes a look at the region’s space industry and how technologies developed here have impacted extra-terrestrial travel…
From the final frontier to galaxies far, far away, space travel has always captured the public’s imagination. Advances in spacefaring technologies may one day bring us to the point of interstellar travel made popular by science fiction – and the foundations of those leaps forward are being laid right here in Dundee.
Equipment and software developed in Dundee and Angus is now used by over 100 spacecraft operated by space agencies across the globe – expanding the region’s influence beyond the atmosphere and out towards the stars.
The University of Dundee’s Space Technology Centre, for example, has produced research that has impacted the development of planetary landing technology, satellite data reception and data handling onboard spacecraft.
From research at the university, STAR-Dundee was born – pioneers of SpaceWire and SpaceFibre which have been employed in numerous missions. More efficient than USB or ethernet, the technology allows transfer of massive amounts of data in the harsh environment of space, and STAR-Dundee is responsible for developing some of the most sophisticated end-user technologies for the system.
Other companies across the region have also impacted positively on the space industry – including Bright Ascension. Founded in 2011, the team is now one of the world’s leading developers of software for flight and ground control – ensuring space missions are carried out successfully.
And GORE, the technology, materials and medical manufacturing giant, has unveiled its first space centre of excellence outside the US – in Dundee. The launch of the Gore Space Centre of Excellence at Dundee Technology Park plant was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary celebration of the firm’s legacy in helping the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
Innovative technological advances are not confined to the vacuum of space. Researchers at the James Hutton Institute have repurposed early solar panel cleaning technologies used on space missions over 40 years ago. Now, they are used to create a sophisticated water purification system which is delivering clean water to over 100,000 people in Pakistan.
So, whether the technology is used outside our atmosphere or on the ground, innovators in Dundee and Angus have proved time and time again that they are willing to shoot for the stars – and more often than not, succeed in getting there. These inspirational innovators have shown that Dundee and Angus truly is where ideas become legend.