Dublin astrophysicist Cillian Murphy is currently one of six ‘analog’ astronauts on board a simulated space mission aimed at recreating conditions of a flight to the moon.
Cillian spoke exclusively with PJ Gallagher and Jim McCabe while participating in the HECATE – (Human Exploration in a Closed Analog Terrestrial Environment) mission at the LunAres Research Station in Poland. Located on the grounds of a post-military airport, LunAres is a specialised facility that simulates all the conditions of space travel and a space research station, minus the zero gravity.
In addition to his work on the HECATE mission, the Dublin man has recently applied to the open call for new astronauts by the ESA. For the first time in 11 years, the ESA is looking for new astronauts as Europe plans to increase its space exploration activities.
During the two-week HECATE mission, the crew of analog astronauts will study the impact of isolation on astronauts, plant cultivation in space, and test technology to improve spacewalking.
Cillian, who has a Master’s degree in Space and Science Technology from University College Dublin, is the Medical Officer for the mission, which makes him responsible for all physical and psychological experiments. His interest in space was copper-fastened in 2018 when he received a special traineeship award from the Irish Research Council to work with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Cillian told PJ & Jim: “The ESA traineeship I received in 2018 provided me with a life-changing opportunity to pursue my goal of becoming an astronaut. The experience of working with the ESA confirmed for me that I want to dedicate my career to astronomical research and space exploration. I am delighted to be participating in the HECATE mission to gain a simulated insight into what space travel is actually like. Following this, I aim to become one of the first Irish people ever to travel in space.”
On Thursday, 20th May, at 5.30pm, Mr. Murphy will hold an online questions-and-answers session with other members of the HECATE crew for the public to learn more about the mission.