Since 1991 when ESA started its Technology Transfer Programme there have been more than 160 spin-offs; technology originally developed for space adventures is now improving daily life on Earth.
The programme has also created or saved some 2500 European jobs, and generated €24 million in cumulative turnover by the end of 2002 for European space companies and €300 million for the non-space industries involved. Plus 30 new companies have been created.
ESA Technology Programme
Without the availability of suitable technology, the successful exploration and exploitation of outer space would not be impossible.
The eventual success or failure of a space mission may ultimately be decided by the performance of one piece of technology – an antenna for telecommunications, a radar to observe the Earth, or special lenses for a space telescope. Each individual component is crucial.
To have a technology ready when a satellite flies, Technology Research and Development (TRD) must start years in advance. The scale of this activity can be judged by the fact that, each year, ESA manages TRD contracts worth around €250 million.
In this way, Europe lays the foundations for new services and products. Some of these may still be in the early stages of development while the potential of others may not yet have been recognised. However, such research may eventually open up entirely new scientific and commercial opportunities.