There will be a significant Cork influence when Ireland makes its first venture into space.
Blackrock Castle Observatory and CIT are to lead an outreach programme to inspire the next generation of science students that will form part of the mission of Ireland's first satellite while in orbit over a 12-month period.
The EIRSAT-1 is to be launched from the International Space Station and will be Ireland's first ever satellite. It will gather data on Gamma Ray bursts and test space technologies.
The project is being led by UCD and Queen’s University Belfast, in partnership with five Irish companies to develop, launch and operate the satellite under the European Space Agency's (ESA) 'Fly Your Satellite' 2017 programme.
Training, Skills and Innovation Minister John Halligan lauded the development as a huge opportunity for the country.
“Ireland has never launched a satellite of its own. This mission represents a first for the island of Ireland and a giant leap for the Irish Space Sector and will be of enormous interest to the entire community,” he said.
“The project will have a significant impact on educational programmes and future skills by placing space flight know-how into students’ hands for the first time,” he added.
Professor Lorraine Hanlon of UCD’s School of Physics said the project provides a unique learning experience for students “Our students will have an amazing opportunity to learn, not only from the wealth of expertise at ESA but also from the other excellent teams participating in the programme from across Europe. This hard work will prepare them very well for future careers in the space sector.”
David Murphy, a PhD student in the UCD Space Science group and systems engineer on the project said: “Working on EIRSAT-1 is an unprecedented opportunity for Irish students. When I started my PhD I hoped that I'd be helping to push forward the design of a gamma-ray detector that might someday fly in space. I never expected that as a student I'd be responsible for flying that detector on Ireland's first satellite.” The project is supported by a number of industrial partners including Resonate Ltd, ENBIO, SensL, Parameter Space and MOOG Dublin.