Published Thursday, 13 September 2012
Queen's University Belfast is set to double the UK's share of the space market (© Pacemaker)
At present, the UK's space industry contributes £9.1bn annually to the economy - but this is set to double by 2030.
The aerospace, defence, security and space sectors combined contribute over £1bn to the economy in Northern Ireland.
Earlier this week, leading figures from UK and European space agencies landed in Northern Ireland for the region's first Space Summit at Queen's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT).
Experts, who attended the summit, outlined future research requirements for antennas and related technologies.
They also highlighted potential commercial opportunities for both local and other UK-based companies involved in the space industry.
The number of people worldwide being able to access the internet could be massively increased with one ECIT research project.
This would lead to people in some of the most remote parts of the world being able to surf the net.
It is being overseen by Professor Vince Fusco, Director of Research at ECIT's High Frequency Electronics Cluster.
Prof Fusco said: "At the present time, only 30 per cent of the world's population is able to get online.
"The aim of our work is to test ways to increase the telecom and antenna capabilities of satellites.
"One potential consequence of this work is that it could ultimately lead to greatly increased internet access via broadband satellite connections, so the benefits could be very significant."
The expert said that ECIT's expertise in this highly specialist field is well known within the European space industry.
He continued: "We are the main supplier of various types of sophisticated components both to the UK space industry and to the European Space Agency.
"We now have 30 researchers working at the Institute who have been involved in numerous high-monetary value programmes for UK and European clients in recent years."
Stephen Wray, also from ECIT, told UTV: "We're show-casing that we have world leading research and capability, that could be exploited and taken through to enable new business and new opportunities in this area.
"We also wanted to provide an opportunity for the Northern Ireland business community to understand this opportunity, get involved and hear about exciting growth areas."