09 January 2023 – All of Ireland will be focused the night sky this evening for the Virgin Orbit launch of the ‘Start Me Up’ mission, but nowhere more so than at National Space Centre, which is supporting Telemetry, Tracking and Control (TT&C) groundstation services for the €15M mission.
“We are thrilled to be working with our partners Leafspace and Goonhilly to provide TT&C for this historic launch from Cornwall,” commented Rory Fitzpatrick, CEO of National Space Centre at Elfordstown EarthStation near Midleton in Cork. “Interestingly, while it will be a first for the British, it will be the third time we’ve provided ground control data for a space launch at the NSC. We’ve previously supported RocketLabs’ Electron rocket launch and we also provided groundstation services for South Korea’s recent Nuri rocket launch for Contec.”
NSC will be hosting a livestreamed watch event from National Space Centre as staff and partners gather to watch the Virgin Orbit jumbo jet known as ‘Cosmic Girl’ climb to 35,000 before air launching its LauncherOne rocket into orbit. The event will start 5 minutes before launch, currently scheduled for 22:15, live at https://www.youtube.com/@NationalSpaceCentreIRE.
LauncherOne will then release eight miniaturised satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The LauncherOne mission will communicate with mission control at Spaceport Cornwall via a select network of ground stations, including one in Ireland at NSC. LauncherOne’s eight ’smallsat’ satellites, each the size of a cereal box, are being released into Low Earth Orbit for various Virgin customers.
Image 1: The LeafSpace tracking antenna (center) at the National Space Centre in Cork, where it will track the progress of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl and LauncherOne mission scheduled for tonight. Photo: Ger McCarthy
Image 2: Luke McCarthy (3) holds a flight helmet in front of the LeafSpace tracking antenna at the National Space Centre in Cork, where it will track the progress of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl and LauncherOne mission, ‘Start Her Up’. Photo: Ger McCarthy
Sabrina Dent Head of Marketing and Business Development National Space Centre 085 702 8212
ABOUT THE NATIONAL SPACE CENTRE
The National Space Centre (NSC) is Europe’s most westerly teleport and Ireland’s only commercial ground station. Opened as Elfordstown Earthstation in 1984 at a cost of IR£8M (€25M today), the facility celebrated ten years of operation as the NSC in 2020. The company provides commercial broadcast services, ground control support for satellites and spacecraft, academic research partnerships and space industry consulting. The NSC’s co-located Space Campus is home to more than a dozen Irish space startups and EU-headquartered space enterprises.