Ireland’s first satellite, Educational Irish Research Satellite 1 (EIRSAT-1), is scheduled to launch into space in the next two weeks. The satellite, which has been in development for six years, is currently at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and will be launched into space attached to Elon Musk’s Space X Falcon 9 rocket at the end of November.
EIRSAT-1, a 2U CubeSat model, was developed through the European Space Agency’s “Fly your Satellite!” student program and received support from various Irish Government agencies. Once in orbit, the satellite will ride 550km above Earth’s orbit before deploying from the rocket. It will then unfurl its five antennas and begin its scientific mission.
The primary objective of EIRSAT-1 is to detect gamma ray bursts, which can provide valuable insights into the physics of the early universe. The satellite will also test a control software developed by UCD’s dynamics and control group and evaluate the durability of protective coating technology created by Irish space company Enbio.
The project has provided exceptional educational opportunities for the team involved. Dr. Rachel Dunwoody, payload and operations specialist, described it as an amazing learning experience, with access to state-of-the-art facilities and collaboration with ESA experts.
Dr. David Murphy, lead systems engineer for the mission, highlighted the growing space industry in Ireland. He mentioned that Irish companies are actively hiring graduates from the sector. The launch of EIRSAT-1 marks a significant milestone for Ireland’s space industry and will further boost its growth.
In addition to EIRSAT-1, UCD is working on other space projects. Professor Sheila McBreen is leading the development of a new satellite triple the size of EIRSAT-1, while a cross-European collaboration is underway to build a Compton Telescope in a Cubesat led by Professor Lorraine Hanlon. Dr. Murphy is also leading a spin-out study on the coordination of a swarm of Cubesat satellites.
With these projects, UCD aims to contribute to the advancement of space research and technology and provide valuable opportunities for students interested in the space industry.