Northern Ireland

Queen's University Belfast to launch first Irish satellite

The international space station Image copyright NASA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Image caption The satellite will be launched from the International Space Station

Ireland is preparing to launch its first satellite in space, with the help of researchers and students from Queen's University Belfast.

The project is being run jointly with University College Dublin, in partnership with five Irish companies.

The EirSat-1 will be launched from the International Space Station and will orbit space for a year, gathering data.

Queen's said the mission was a "giant leap" for its students to advance their knowledge in space science.

The team also hopes it will inspire more young people to take up so-called STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and maths.

'Remarkable step'

Dr Gasser Abdelal, from Queen's University Belfast, is leading the design, manufacturing and testing of the satellite.

"This is one remarkable step for academic staff on the project, and one giant leap for our aerospace degree students," he said.

"This mission will allow our students at Queen's and students across the whole island of Ireland, to advance knowledge in space science and engineering."

Image copyright QUB
Image caption EirSat-1 will be managed from a command centre at University College Dublin

He added that the project would also help foster "co-operation with the industry".

"We have at least 12 companies based here in Northern Ireland which are interested in the space industry," he said.

EirSat-1 is being developed under the European Space Agency's Fly Your Satellite! 2017 programme, and it will gather data on Gamma-ray bursts and test innovative Irish space technologies.

It will be managed and controlled from University College Dublin (UCD).

UCD's Prof Lorraine Hanlon said students and graduates in space science, physics and engineering would build and operate the satellite.

"Our students will have an amazing opportunity to learn, not only from the wealth of expertise at the European Space Agency, but also from the other excellent teams participating in the programme from across Europe," she said.