Published on Monday24thSeptember2018

Ireland’s First Ever Satellite Moves One Step Closer to Launch into Space

20180924 Halligan

Pictured at UCD are; Joe Thompson, PhD student, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering; John Halligan, Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development and Maeve Doyle, PhD student, UCD School of Physics. (Image: Colm Mahady, Fennell Photography).

John Halligan, Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, today announced that Ireland’s first ever satellite, EIRSAT-1, has successfully completed the first phase of the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Fly your Satellite! (FYS) Programme, the Critical Design Review, and moves one step closer to launch into space.

Minister Halligan made the announcement during a visit to University College Dublin (UCD) where he met with the interdisciplinary team of 16 UCD postgraduate students who are building the satellite with the support of ESA’s Education Office.

EIRSAT-1 (Educational Irish Research Satellite-1) is a miniature satellite, or CubeSat, and is comparable in size to that of an average shoebox. In May 2017 EIRSAT-1 was chosen to be part of the second cycle of the FYS! Programme. ESA has concluded that the objectives of the satellite’s Critical Design Review have now been achieved, marking an important milestone for the project.

The UCD team now moves to the next phase of the programme, and will begin to assemble and test an EIRSAT-1 prototype in newly installed clean rooms at the University. Subject to passing further reviews and mission milestones, EIRSAT-1 is expected to be delivered to ESA in mid-2020 with 3 scientific experiments on board. After subsequent launch it is anticipated to operate for a 6 to 12 month period. Once in orbit the satellite will communicate data to Earth through a ground radio station, located at EIRSAT-1 mission control in the UCD School of Physics.

Minister Halligan said,

The EIRSAT-1 project provides the UCD student team with a great opportunity to develop skills in satellite development, a first in Irish space science education. The development of these skills will have an impact beyond those directly participating in the project, including in the expanding space industry sector in Ireland.

Furthermore, UCD’s participation in the Fly Your Satellite! programme has significant potential to drive an interest in space among students at all levels of education at a time when Ireland’s STEM capabilities are playing an increasingly important role in our international competitiveness.