Search icon


20th Jun 2024

Mayo woman set to be first Irish person in space for 2026 mission

Simon Kelly

Mayo woman space

“I’m just so proud to have this moment.”

A woman from Mayo is set to be the first Irish person in space as part of an upcoming research mission in 2026.

Dr Norah Patten, who works for Realtra Space Systems Engineering in Coolock, Dublin, will be part of a research mission on Virgin Galactic’s new commercial spacecraft.

The team, sent by the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), are aiming to advance scientific knowledge on supporting life in space.

Dr Patten will be undertaking the mission alongside two other researchers from the US and Canada, on the spacecraft known as Delta.

Mayo woman set to be first Irish person in space in 2026 mission

The flight will be less than two hours long and is sub-orbital (travelling to and from space without going around the earth).

“When I was 11, I had an opportunity to visit NASA in Cleveland, Ohio,” Dr Patten said.

“And since that day, I’ve set my eyes on space and even though it’s been an absolutely impossible dream, it just goes to show with persistence and much hard work I have finally been offered this unbelievable opportunity.”

Dr Patten added: “I’m so grateful. I’m so thankful. And I’m just so proud to have this moment.

“Its very hard to put into words the excitement and pride and all the emotions I feel now that this spaceflight has been secured.”

The mission is still in development but the cost of the flight is expected to be in the region of $600,000 (€560,000).

Funding will be made by institutional investors, grants and sponsors.

Dr Patten has written an award-winning children’s book on space and has also promoted numerous STEM initiatives for young people throughout her career.

She said she hopes to get Irish people more engaged in the space sector as she prepares for her journey.

Read more:

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge