EIRSAT-1, Ireland’s inaugural satellite, is embarking on its final journey from Ireland as preparations are underway for its anticipated launch. The University College Dublin (UCD)-designed, built, and tested satellite is scheduled to be sent into orbit on November 29th from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, aboard a Space X Falcon 9 rocket.
The flagship project of UCD C-Space, the UCD Centre for Space Research, the UCD School of Physics, and UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, EIRSAT-1 is part of the European Space Agency (ESA) Academy’s ‘Fly Your Satellite!’ initiative. This program provides university students with training, mentorship from space experts, and hands-on guidance throughout all stages of a professional satellite project.
As a cubesat, EIRSAT-1 was announced and selected by ESA for the ‘Fly Your Satellite!’ program in 2017. Its development at UCD has introduced space systems engineering and skills that were previously absent in the Irish industry and academia. This educational research satellite has spent six years in development, providing students with comprehensive training in various aspects of satellite development.
EIRSAT-1 will carry three experiments into Low Earth Orbit for its November launch and transmit data to a command center at UCD. These experiments include a gamma ray detection experiment and an in-orbit demonstration of a protective coating technology developed in Ireland by UCD and Enbio Ltd. Furthermore, the satellite will feature a novel attitude control system designed by the Dynamics and Control Group in the UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.
Dr. Ronan Wall, Manager of the Centre for Space Research, expressed the significance of this milestone, stating, “This departure of the satellite from Irish shores for the last time on the first step of its journey to orbit is a big moment for the team. EIRSAT-1 has had thousands of hours of work poured into it, and we are ready to launch and operate the spacecraft for the benefit of science, training, and education in Ireland.”
EIRSAT-1 has received support and funding from various entities, including the ESA Education Office, Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Research Council, Enterprise Ireland, UCD, Openet, and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The Irish European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO) has also collaborated with the project to engage school students in inspiring and educational activities related to EIRSAT-1.