News Archive 2017

UCD to Lead Development of Ireland’s First Ever Satellite

Monday, 29 May, 2017 

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced the selection of EIRSAT-1, Ireland’s first ever satellite, which is being developed under the ESA Education Office “Fly Your Satellite!” 2017 Programme.

UCD is leading the development, launch and operation of this CubeSat, to be launched from the International Space Station (ISS), in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and five Irish companies, Resonate Ltd, ENBIO, SensL, Parameter Space and MOOG Dublin.

Parameter Space is a client, and ENBIO is a graduate of NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at UCD.

John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, who welcomed the announcement 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 QUB he said, “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.”

Professor Lorraine Hanlon, UCD School of Physics and project lead said, “This success has been made possible through sustained support from Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland and ESA, combined with a team of outstanding students at undergraduate and graduate level in space science, physics and engineering, who will have to work extremely hard to pass the ESA reviews and make the dream of this satellite mission come true.”

She added, “Our students will have an amazing opportunity to learn, not only from the wealth of expertise at ESA, but also from the other excellent teams participating in the programme from across Europe. This hard work will prepare them very well for future careers in the space sector.”

EIRSAT-1 (Educational Irish Research Satellite 1) is a collaborative space project, developed by students and staff of UCD and QUB, 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 intention is that EIRSAT-1 will be launched and delivered to the International Space Station and will then be launched into orbit from the ISS having passed ESA’s stringent requirements.

The satellite will orbit the Earth gathering data for approximately 12 months and will be managed and controlled from UCD. A ground station in the UCD School of Physics will allow commands to be uplinked via UHF radio and data to be downlinked via VHF radio from the spacecraft.

Commenting on the success of the consortium Minister Halligan TD said, “The consortium’s success reflects the great advances that have been made by Ireland’s universities and industry in recent years and is part of an ongoing rapid expansion of the Irish space sector. The knowledge and experienced gained from developing and operating this Satellite will contribute greatly to Ireland’s strategy for the space sector.”

Professor Hanlon concluded that, “Although the UCD Space Science group works on fundamental research questions in astrophysics, the technology we have developed has wider applications in space,   medicine and security. We can never really imagine when we start new research projects where our ideas will take us – that is especially true in this case. Despite its small size, EIRSAT-1 will detect the biggest explosions since the Big Bang and pave the way for future space science missions.”