EIRSAT-1 Successfully Launched: Ireland’s Historic First Satellite Begins Mission

Six years of hard work and dedication came to fruition on January 12, 2023, as the Educational Irish Research Satellite, EIRSAT-1, successfully launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This historic event marked Ireland’s first satellite, a remarkable achievement for the country.

The development of EIRSAT-1 was led by students from University College Dublin (UCD) as part of the European Space Agency (ESA) Academy’s Fly Your Satellite! program. Under the guidance of ESA experts, the students designed, built, and tested the satellite according to professional standards. They also underwent training and test campaigns at ESA facilities in Belgium and Germany to learn about spacecraft operations.

Josef Aschbacher, ESA Director General, congratulated the EIRSAT-1 team on their successful launch and expressed his gratitude to UCD for collaborating with ESA in achieving a common educational objective. Aschbacher emphasized the importance of building capacity and nurturing generations of citizens who can use space technology for the benefit of society and the planet.

EIRSAT-1 will conduct three main experiments from its low earth orbit. The first experiment, called GMOD, aims to study gamma ray bursts, which are powerful explosions that occur when massive stars die or when two stars collide. The second experiment, EMOD, focuses on understanding how thermal treatment protects a satellite’s surface in space. Lastly, the third experiment, WBC, tests a new method of using Earth’s magnetic field to change a satellite’s orientation in space.

Following its deployment to orbit, the student team is now working on establishing contact with EIRSAT-1 and initiating operations from their ground control facility at UCD in Dublin. This facility is entirely operated by students as well.

Hugo Marée, Head of the ESA Education Office, commended the EIRSAT-1 students for their remarkable achievements and noted that the satellite has not only made history but also inspired a generation of Irish school students to aim higher. Marée attributed this inspiration to the activities organized by ESERO Ireland, a collaboration between ESA and Science Foundation Ireland, surrounding the EIRSAT-1 mission. He expressed pride in ESA’s Education program for its ability to inspire and engage different age groups in pursuing careers in STEM.

For more information about EIRSAT-1 and other educational satellite programs, visit the ESA Education website.

Joost Vanreusel, Head of the ESA Academy Programme – [email protected]
Alex Kinnaird, ESA Academy, Fly Your Satellite! Programme Coordinator – [email protected]