University College Dublin (UCD) students have successfully launched Ireland’s first artificial satellite into space.
EIRSAT-1 flew from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Friday night aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The satellite is inscribed with a poem called “All Ways Home” written by 12 Irish primary school students who are working as part of a collaborative project across Ireland.
Neil Richmond TD congratulated those behind the project and expressed his pride in recognizing the launch as Ireland’s official space mission.
The Minister for Business, Employment and Retail said: “It’s a real honor to witness history being made as we proudly lead the way as EIRSAT-1 becomes Ireland’s first satellite into space.”
“I know that so many people have spent years trying to get to this moment, a moment they probably only dreamed of before.”
He added: “As Ireland becomes the first country to go into space, this will be the realization of a lifelong dream for many who are aiming for the stars.
“Therefore, I wish everyone involved in making history and that EIRSAT-1 will lead the way and that many more will follow.”
“An important step”
The culmination of six years of research by UCD students, EIRSAT-1 was developed under the Fly Your Satellite program developed by the European Space Agency (ESA).
The small cubic satellite (cubesat) was designed, built and tested at UCD under the direction of ESA.
After confirming that EIRSAT-1 had been successfully placed into low Earth orbit, UCD Chancellor Professor Orla Feely said the project was an “important step” in Ireland’s space education sector.
🇮🇪🚀🌌#EIRSAT1 made history as Ireland’s first satellite.
Relive the historic launch below 👇 pic.twitter.com/jlqXhJcXxt
— ESA (@esa) December 1, 2023
“What a satisfying moment this is for the Irish team. It is a remarkable first for the Irish scientific community,” she said.
“By combining the scientific expertise of University College Dublin with ESA’s expertise in building and testing satellites and space systems, Ireland’s first satellite, EIRSAT-1, was successfully launched into space and orbited the Earth. We have reached orbit.
“From the initial proposal to ESA six years ago, to the clean room and mission control on the UCD campus where students will operate EIRSAT-1 in orbit, and of course the engineering and construction of the satellite itself, the UCD team has This is an important step forward for space education, research and capacity development in Ireland.”
ESA Director-General Josef Aschbacher said that the collaboration between ESA and universities will “make our space ambitions a reality.”
“I would like to sincerely congratulate the EIRSAT-1 team on this successful launch and the beginning of Ireland’s first exciting adventure in orbit,” he said.
“I would also like to thank UCD for working with ESA towards our shared educational goal of improving the skills of young people.
“Only by building capacity can we make our space ambitions a reality for Ireland and Europe.”
EIRSAT-1 is currently in low Earth orbit, conducting three experiments and reporting data to the command center at UCD.
Its main mission is to study gamma-ray bursts, the brightest phenomena in the universe, and it will do so using small detectors built into its frame.
Other payloads include equipment to carry out thermal coating studies to evaluate the performance of satellite surface treatments developed in Ireland.