Fly Your Satellite! Selection Workshop
In this blog, Jessica Erkal, EIRSAT-1 team member and PhD student in the UCD Star Formation Group, gives an insight into the exciting selection workshop that the EIRSAT-1 team took part in at ESA’s European Space Technology Centre (ESTEC) in May.
The EIRSAT-1 team has been busily preparing our Critical Design Review data pack all summer. In the midst of all this, we forgot we wanted to tell you about the Selection Workshop! Better late than never right?
So! This workshop was back in May in ESA’s ESTEC facility in the Netherlands. Eight members of the EIRSAT-1 team, and our professor Lorraine Hanlon, had the opportunity to go to the workshop. The students selected were David Murphy (System Engineer, GMOD), Peter Forde (EPS), Daniel Higgins (Structure), me! (Communications, Product Assurance), Paul Hedderman (EPS), Joe Flanagan (EMOD), Stephen O’Connor (EPS) and Liam Phelan (Technical Specifications). We also adopted a new team member in ESTEC – Paxi, the ESA kids mascot.
The EIRSAT-1 team members had a busy schedule for the week long workshop which included lectures from ESA’s Cubesat Experts and very interesting tours of the facilities at ESTEC. Some team members even got a sneak peak at BepiColombo, Europe’s first mission to Mercury! The things we learned from the lectures have helped us a lot in writing our documents. Some lectures were focused on certain subsystems like ADCS (Attitude Determination and Control Systems, or how the satellite moves and points) or TT&C (Tracking, Telemetry and Comms, or how we track and talk to the satellite), while others broadly discussed the end-to-end design and development of a Cubesat. Particularly important for me and product assurance was a lecture about the harsh effects of the space environment on spacecraft materials and how to properly document this.
The stress and excitement built during the week as we prepared for our presentation of EIRSAT-1 to the FYS! Team and ESA Experts. Four students were presenting – that was David, Daniel, Stephen and myself. EIRSAT-1 was first up, bright and early on Wednesday morning at 9am. No pressure. I was so nervous but going first probably helped instead of having to wait all day. We covered everything from the payloads, our other subsystems to expected results and project timelines. The presentation went really well and the panel seemed very interested, especially in our payloads. After all the talks, the teams had to time to de-stress and celebrate on Wednesday night.
Some of the highlights of the week were meeting the other teams too. We met teams from England, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium. Some teams will be studying Earth observation applications and new satellite tracking methods. On Thursday night, the FYS! Team organised a big group dinner for all the teams. We were all mixed around so all the teams could get to know each other – we had been so busy in lectures and preparing for our talks earlier in the week that we didn’t have much time to chat and socialise!
After arriving home to Dublin, then it was a waiting game. All the teams eagerly awaited news and updates from the FYS! Team. Then, all of a sudden, we got an email. We got the go-ahead! Some months of hard work and a very intense week later – we were building Ireland’s first satellite. The team was delighted. Since then, we’ve been busy preparing for CDR and now we wait for feedback to implement and further approval of these documents and the EIRSAT-1 design.