herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Students will help build Ireland's first spacecraft

science

Professor Susan McKenna Lawlor
Professor Susan McKenna Lawlor

Irish students are to be given the opportunity to construct the country's first-ever spacecraft.

The objective of the first Irish mission to space will be to study space weather.

The project is being run by former Maynooth Professor Susan McKenna Lawlor, who is internationally renowned for her work on space technology.

Her company, Space Technology Ltd, will construct the craft with the help of undisclosed financial donors. The craft will be launched into space at the end of 2016.

Ms McKenna Lawlor plans to launch a national competition for engineering students to "gain hands-on experience in spacecraft construction".

The professor said the students who take part in the project will be "enabled" to play an active role in "future space missions".

"Many exciting jobs will shortly come on line in the space industry.

"Our students need to start getting ready for this through such training experiences," she said.

The Irish space project will give students opportunities to go on radio and TV, and publicise their work, though the plans have yet to be finalised.

music

Ms McKenna Lawlor said that she also wanted to recruit arts students, with the hope of having special experiments in music, poetry and literature on board the craft.

A piece of sculpture has also been commissioned to go on board the satellite.

An online facility for the general public to view the findings of the data collected by the satellite will also be made available.

Other countries, including Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Slovakia and the UK have expressed interest in using the Irish space craft to facilitate their respective scientific studies.

An announcement regarding the competition dates and the start date of the project is expected in the coming days.

Professor Mc Kenna Lawlor has worked with Nasa, the European Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency on a number of projects.

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