Minister Halligan visits EIRSAT-1 team in UCD
The EIRSAT-1 team were lucky to host Minister John Halligan, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, in University College Dublin on Tuesday September 26th.
The Minister heard from a variety of speakers, including Professor Orla Feely, Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact in UCD. Prof. Feely commented on the wealth of space research that is ongoing in UCD and how fundamental it is to answering the most basic questions, such as where we come from.
EIRSAT-1 System Engineer David Murphy spoke about his journey and inspirations. A few years ago he glimpsed the Columbus module at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, and on it was a small Irish flag. He said that was a small moment of pride for him, and he watched the space shuttle launches from the coast of Waterford. He highlighted the ‘unspoken dream’ of the students on the EIRSAT-1 team : we don’t want to be astronauts, we just want to have a little piece of our effort in space, passing over our heads.
EIRSAT-1 team leader Dr. Ronan Wall remarked that he hadn’t ever asked any of the students working on EIRSAT-1 about why they have volunteered much of their time to the mission. He said the question didn’t need to be asked; we all know why we are working so hard, and we all share a common dream. Ronan spoke about the Irish space industry, and how this mission will equip a cohort of graduates with essential skills in designing, testing, building and operating an entire mission. He remarked that this is a stepping stone for the Irish space industry and the students involved.
Program Manager Professor Lorraine Hanlon spoke about the PhD and MSc students gaining essential training on this mission, and the path ahead for the team. It is easy putting things down on paper, but translating those designs and procedures into real life brings with it complications. These challenges lie ahead for the EIRSAT-1 team in the next few months and will require further support from all those involved.
Minister John Halligan spoke about the growth of the Irish space industry. He mentioned that every euro invested in the Irish space industry returns between €6 and €8. On the topic of research and development, he commented that space research is essential and that Universities such as UCD are the driving forces behind industry growth. He said that he looks forward to hopefully visiting again for the launch of EIRSAT-1.
Minister Halligan was then presented with a motherboard with the EIRSAT-1 logo on it. PhD student Jessica Erkal presented this to the Minister. Jessica works on Communications and product assurance documentation for EIRSAT-1 and is a recent graduate from the UCD MSc Space Science & Technology.
Coffee, tea and EIRSAT-1 donuts were enjoyed by all, whilst the Minister chatted to the team and had a look at the posters from the recent MSc Space Science & Technology students and undergraduate summer interns working on the mission.
We thank the Minister for taking the time to hear our story so far and our plans for the journey ahead. It was a proud day for the team to reflect upon the last 4 months of hard work, and to look ahead to the challenges over the next few months. As David Murphy said, we all have the same unspoken dream and are eager to make it happen.