16th November National Space Centre, Europe’s Most Westerly Teleport
On Monday 16th of November, the Southern Chapter were hosted by Rory Fitzpatrick, CEO of National Space Centre, Europe’s Most Westerly Teleport. Rory was joined by Bruce Hannah, Chief Technical Officer. Together they walked us through the history of the site and then gave us a tour and demonstration of the capabilities of the operation.
Rory establish The National Space Centre in 2010 to procure Elfordstown Earthstation, Europe’s most westerly teleport. The station was established in 1984 by Eircom & EUTELSAT to provide broadcast data, voice and television services across Europe and between the USA and the continent. The original infrastructure features the three large dishes, and played a vital part in transcontinental communications until transatlantic cables made it redundant in the late 90s. By 2005 the site was due for mothballing and demolition. Over the next 5 years, Rory explored the potential for the site and then in 2010 succeeded in bringing investors together to take advantage of the launch of KA-SAT, the world's most powerful satellite. This satellite enables the delivery of high-speed broadband to remote locations, throughout Eastern Europe and the National Space Centre now plays a vital part of that delivery. Maritime tracking and monitoring also makes up a large part of the business model. Whilst Rory continues to widen the capabilities of this strategically situated teleport he considers the business still to be very much the start-up phase, owing to the long lead times associated with any space related project.
During the tour and demonstration, we saw how the site's data facilitation capabilities are being used in policing illegal fishing our territorial waters. We also saw how the data feeds are being used by those fighting the human trafficking challenges in North Africa and the Mediterranean.
The visit attracted members from the Southern Region as well as Dublin and Belfast. It was a thoroughly engaging and entertaining evening.
We would hope to return the spaceport for a follow up visit to see how their new ventures are progressing.
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