QUB's crucial role as satellite sees Ireland enter the space age
Ireland is preparing to launch its first ever satellite in space - with the help of students and staff of Queen's University in Belfast.
EIRSAT-1 will orbit the Earth for 12 months after its launch from the International Space Station, if it passes the testing of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The project is led by researchers and students at Queen's and University College Dublin (UCD) in partnership with five Irish companies.
EIRSAT-1 will gather data on gamma ray bursts and will test innovative Irish space technologies.
It is being developed under the ESA's 'Fly Your Satellite! 2017' programme. The satellite will be managed and controlled from UCD, where a ground station in the School of Physics will act as the command centre.
Those involved hope the project will inspire more young people to take up subjects like science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Dr Gasser Abdelal from Queen's is leading the design, manufacturing, and testing of the EIRSAT-1 structure, mechanisms and thermal systems.
He said: "This is one remarkable step for academic staff on the project, and one giant leap for our aerospace degree students.
"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.
"The key objective of this mission is to inspire the next generation of students to study STEM subjects and address skills shortages in the space sector."
The project will provide training and education for graduates and undergraduate students in all major aspects of satellite development, under expert guidance from academic and industry mentors and ESA.
Professor Lorraine Hanlon of UCD's School of Physics said: "This success has been made possible through sustained support from Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland and ESA, combined with a team of outstanding students at undergraduate and graduate level in space science, physics and engineering, who will build and operate the satellite."