Ireland’s first satellite is set to be developed after a team of Irish based researchers got the green light from the European Space Agency.
The Education Irish Research Satellite 1 (EIRSAT-1) will be launched from the International Space Station and orbit the Earth for a year – if it meets strict tests and reviews required.
The project was selected by the ESA’s Fly Your Satellite! (FYS) programme which aims to “inspire, engage and better prepare university students for a more effective introduction to their future professions in the space sector”.
The small shoebox sized CubeSat will be designed and tested over the coming months.
If launched, the spacecraft will be managed from a ground station at UCD. It will gather data on Gamma Ray Bursts and aims to test innovative Irish space technologies.
EIRSAT-1 is a collaborative space project, developed by students and staff of UCD and Queen’s University Belfast, which will provide training and education for graduates and undergraduate students in all major aspects of satellite development, under expert guidance from academic and industry mentors and ESA.
The project is supported by a number of industrial partners including Resonate Ltd, ENBIO, SensL, Parameter Space and MOOG Dublin.
EIRSAT-1 will include two different payloads on a 2 Unit CubeSat, both containing technology from the industrial partners that will be flown in space for the first time, marking an important step in their space heritage. The payloads for EIRSAT-1 have been made possible through funding by ESA technology programmes including the Science Core Technology Programme.
The launch of an Irish CubeSat will also mark the ambition of the Irish Space Industry Group (ISIG) who recognised the importance of developing heritage to enable growth in the space sector in Ireland.
Welcoming the announcement, Minister John Halligan said “as Ireland has never launched a satellite of its own this mission represents a first for the island of Ireland and a giant leap for the Irish Space Sector and will be of enormous interest to the entire community.”
Congratulating the project teams from UCD and Queen’s University Belfast, Minister Halligan expressed his belief that “the project will have a significant impact on educational programmes and future skills by placing space flight know-how into students’ hands for the first time”. This is an incredibly exciting project with great potential to have significant impact beyond those directly participating in the project, including the expanding space industry sector in Ireland.”
ISGI Chair, Danny Gleeson, welcomed the announcement: “The Irish Space Industry Group is delighted with the selection by ESA of the UCD-led Irish satellite EIRSAT-1 to proceed to the next phase of the Fly Your Satellite! 2 Programme. The EIRSAT-1 mission is a fantastic opportunity to develop the skills and experience necessary to support sustainable growth in the Irish space sector and provide inspiration to young people to choose an exciting career in space science and engineering.”