How it started
I'm Norah! I grew up in the west of Ireland in a town called Ballina. That's in Co. Mayo and when I was 11 years of age, I visited NASA in Cleveland, Ohio and became obsessed with all things space!
Since then, I have been on my own space quest and have navigated a career to bring me on a journey to the stars.
I studied Aeronautical Engineering and gained my PhD from the University of Limerick, participated in the International Space University (ISU) Space Studies Program (SSP) in 2010, and joined the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences as a citizen scientist in 2017.
My goal is to fly as a researcher on a suborbital spaceflight and share my journey to inspire the next generation of engineers, astronauts, innovators and scientists.
I trained as a gymnast for many years when I was a child and won several all Ireland titles.
Go-karting is one of my favorite hobbies!
How it's going
Since participating in the International Space University (ISU) Space Studies Program in 2010, I have held various roles including Chair of the Space Management and Business Department; Chair of the Space Humanities Department; and Chair for a Team Project. I am now a Global Faculty Member with ISU.
In 2017, I joined Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) at the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences. Through this program, I've participated in several citizen science campaigns including microgravity research flights, spacesuit testing and evaluation, spacecraft and aviation egress and others.
In 2019, I released my children's book 'Shooting for the Stars' published by the O'Brien Press and illustrated by Jennifer Farley and won the An Post Children's book of the year, senior.
Honours | Awards | Panels
2019: An Post Children's Book of the Year, senior
2019: IAC invited panel 'The next 50 years of Human Spaceflight'
2018: PoSSUM Educator Award
2018: Limerick's Top 40 under 40
2015: Emerging Space Leader
2015: IAC Next Generation Plenary
Space & STEM engagement
I have been an active space and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassador for many years and I have been able to use my platforms to create many opportunities, programs and projects for next generation.
Here are a few examples:
i) In 2013, while I was working at the Irish Composites Centre, I initiated and managed 'The Only Way is Up' project. Through a partnership with Nanoroacks, this project launched the first secondary school experiment from Ireland to the International Space Station.
ii) In 2016, I participated in the New Frontiers Entrepreneurship Program. I worked in partnership with IADT to create 'Planet Zebunar', an augmented reality STEM pack for children. The pack launched in Ireland in 2017 and retailed online and in several stores around Ireland.
iii) In 2019, we established the 'PoSSUM13' to engage young females in space science. We came together as 13 PoSSUM candidates and offered teenagers an opportunity to develop an experiment for testing on a microgravity flight. It runs annually and continues today.
An Post (2021): Keynote
International Women's Day: 'Choose to Challenge' keynote and launch of new stamp featuring Jane, Lady Wilde
Pfizer (2021): Keynote
'Trailblazers - Science and Discovery - Creating a pathway for others'
Embassy of Ireland, USA (2021):
St. Brigids Day panel event 'Shooting for the Stars' featuring former NASA astronaut Cady Colman and 2 senior NASA scientists.
EY (2020): Keynote
Launch of EY Wavespace in Dublin, Ireland.
“Superb event.” “I am already energized!”
Norah shared her exhilarating career story at our recent International Women’s Day European event.
The theme of ‘Choose to Challenge’ was a perfect fit. Norah continues to reach for the stars.
We got some great feedback. The benefit of a COVID remote event was that our colleagues could listen with their children to inspire their own STEM journey.
- Grainne Murphy, Analog Devices (Woman’s Leadership Network Lead) -
"We would recommend Dr. Norah in a heartbeat. We all left on a high!"
We hosted our recent Annual Conference and in line with our theme invited Dr. Norah Patten to attend as a guest speaker to the audience. In preparation for the event Dr. Norah was so helpful in our communications and gave generously of her time in advance to the event. Dr. Norah tailored the information of her story to suit the audience and on the day charmed us all. We learned about Norah’s childhood, her ambitions and how she reached her goals. What inspired us most was how her childhood events opened her mind and shaped her education path to achieve her dream job! We thoroughly enjoyed her hands on experience and her project work, getting a glimpse into the life of an astronaut, a real life Irish one, was fascinating. We provided signed copies of her children’s book to all the attendees to share with their young boys and girls in the hope they become as inspired as we were. Thank you so much Dr. Norah for your candid glimpse into your personal and professional life. We would recommend Dr. Norah in a heartbeat. We all left on a high!
- Mary O’Keeffe, Leading Pharmaceutical Company -
"Norah demonstrated great enthusiasm, energy, commitment and insight"
Dr Norah Patten, citizen candidate-astronaut candidate and award-winning STEM advocate, was the Ambassador for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Story of Your Stuff Competition 2021. The EPA were delighted that she agreed to do so. Norah demonstrated great enthusiasm, energy, commitment and insight to this role, especially in promoting the competition through various mediums: she is a very compelling and competent communicator. Norah’s involvement as Ambassador this year really elevated the competition to the next level.
- Dr Jonathan Derham, Programme Manager, Environmental Protection Agency -
"Norah’s advocacy for STEM is deeply encouraging" ..... "it was an absolute pleasure"
‘Norah Patten joined us as part of launching our new company name to our team which echoed Norah’s talk that gave real meaning to the often neglected importance of “Believing in Your Dreams”. Her message was loud and clear, if you don’t have a goal you can’t score. Our Team found Norah’s presenting style engaging and relaxed and they left the session feeling inspired. Norah’s advocacy for STEM is deeply encouraging and hearing how she supports initiatives that bring young people particularly young women to actively engage in STEM related education and activities is very motivating.’ As a fellow UL Graduate from the Engineering fraternity it was an absolute pleasure and we are looking forward to the next time Norah can come to visit our facilities!
- Lorraine Corcoran, Technical Director, Lynoslife (formerly Cosmetic Creations), Mayo & Cork, Ireland -
"Her passion, enthusiasm and natural humility makes it so engaging for her audience"
Presenting and sharing stage with Norah is a real pleasure. Her passion, enthusiasm and natural humility makes it so engaging for her audience. Also her journey and how she tells her story is simply fascinating and an example to all to not let any barriers prevent you getting where you want!
- Gareth Cullen, Director Talent Acquisition at Dell Technologies -
"I am very lucky to have her as one of my mentors"
Dr. Norah Patten is truly an inspiration and I am very lucky to have her as one of my mentors. I enjoyed working with her at the International Space University’s Space Studies Program in 2019. She is a remarkable person who is extremely knowledgeable, kind and helpful.
- Amanda Sathiaraj, 2019 Teaching Associate, International Space University -