In a momentous achievement, the Educational Irish Research Satellite, EIRSAT-1, has successfully launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This groundbreaking event marks Ireland’s first satellite, a result of six years of hard work and dedication by students from University College Dublin (UCD) participating in ESA Academy’s Fly Your Satellite! program.
Measuring just 10.7cm x 10.7cm x 22.7cm, EIRSAT-1 hitched a ride on a Space-X Falcon-9 launcher to reach its orbit. The launch opportunity was provided by the European Space Agency (ESA), which has been actively involved in supporting the satellite’s development. ESA experts have offered training and guidance to UCD students throughout the process, including test campaigns at ESA Education’s CubeSat Support Facility in Belgium and dedicated spacecraft communications sessions at ESA Academy’s Training and Learning Centre and the European Space Operations Centre in Germany.
Josef Aschbacher, ESA Director General, congratulated the EIRSAT-1 team on their successful launch and expressed his gratitude to UCD for collaborating with ESA to boost the skills of the younger generation. Aschbacher emphasized the importance of building capacity to turn space ambitions into reality for Ireland and Europe. He highlighted ESA’s Education program as a means of nurturing citizens who can utilize space technology and solutions to make a positive impact on society, the planet, and the future.
EIRSAT-1 will conduct three main experiments from its low earth orbit, all built from scratch by the students. The experiments include GMOD, a detector to study gamma ray bursts, EMOD, an experiment to test thermal treatment’s protective properties in space, and WBC, an experiment to explore a new method of using Earth’s magnetic field to change a satellite’s orientation.
Following deployment to orbit, the student team is now focused on establishing contact with the satellite and initiating operations from their ground control facility at UCD in Dublin, which is entirely operated by students.
Hugo Marée, Head of the ESA Education Office, joined Aschbacher in congratulating the EIRSAT-1 students for their remarkable achievements. Marée highlighted the satellite’s historical significance as Ireland’s first and its role in inspiring Irish school students to aim higher. He credited ESERO Ireland, a collaboration between ESA and Science Foundation Ireland, for organizing inspirational activities around the mission. Marée expressed pride in ESA’s Education program, which successfully inspires and engages individuals of different age groups towards future careers in STEM.