Meet the Dublin engineer hoping to reach the stars with ESA

by Rebecca Ryan
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[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]A budding Dublin scientist has won a huge national competition to train at the European Space Agency (ESA).

Cillian Murphy won the coveted position, along with Amy Joyce from Clonmel, who are both now in Madrid with the programme.

The traineeships, which can last for one year or more, offers life-changing opportunities to pursue a career in Europe’s gateway to space.

Dundrum man Cillian (26) told Dublin Gazette how the achievement gave him a real boost.
He said: “It felt great. I’ve worked with ESA before, so I was excited to work with them again.

“I hadn’t been having much luck trying to get a PhD and had taken up a job working as an engineer in Hungary, so I felt myself straying from my career path.

“Winning the national traineeship has been great and really bolstered my motivation again.”

Cillian has a master’s degree in space and science technology from UCD. He will work on the Gaia Mission to assist in completing an astrometric survey of stars, using spacecraft observation.

He is also a future analog astronaut candidate with the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF).

Cillian said he has always had an interest in science from a young age: “My mother loves to tell a story about me, at five years old, being given free choice from a bookshop and coming back with a space encyclopedia.

“I decided to pursue science in secondary school and focused on physics. It was only once I started studying physics in UCD that I settled on pursuing space science.”

During the traineeship with the ESA, the top-ranking researcher will work on cutting edge projects and gain practical experience in high-tech space activities.

Cillian said he is “excited” about the work ahead and being in Madrid: “It’s impossible to pick just one thing that I am looking forward to and enjoying at ESA.

“I love the working environment, the general friendliness of people and the variety of clubs and non-work activities you can join.

“I’m excited about the work, about having the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to a space mission I admire and have followed since before it was launched years ago.

“I’m enthusiastic to learn everything I can from the experiences I will have and from the colleagues I am meeting.”

James would love to work with the ESA someday and ultimately wants to become an ESA astronaut.

“My highest ambition is to become an ESA astronaut in the future. I’m aware that’s highly ambitious especially because Ireland are not big contributors to the ESA and we don’t support the human spaceflight programme at all. But it’s still the dream.

“More realistically, I hope still to work with ESA but to work as a researcher in ESAC or in mission control in ESOC.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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