The first ever satellite to be designed, built and launched entirely by Ireland has moved a step closer to space today. Minister John Halligan TD today announced that the EIRSAT-1 currently being designed by UCD has passed the critical design review phase of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ‘Fly Your Satellite’ (FYS) program.

EIRSAT-1 is being designed and built by a 16 person interdisciplinary team of UCD postgraduates with the support of the ESA’s Education Office. The satellite is a CubeSat, and is the size of an average shoebox, which provides a cost effective entry way into space flight for many groups. The purpose of the satellite is to develop the skills and capabilities of the Irish higher education sector in space science and engineering, foster collaboration between the higher education and aerospace sector in Ireland and deliver three experimental Irish payloads into orbit.

The satellite is expected to carry three experiments on board including a gamma ray detector, a in-flight demonstration of a new thermal control coating developed by Irish company ENBIO Ltd and finally a Wave-Based Control algorithm developed in UCD to control the movements of the Satellite when in orbit.

The satellite is expected to be delivered to the ESA mid 2020 and then delivered into orbit. Once there it is expected that it will remain in operation for between six and 12 months.

Minister Halligan has said ‘The EIRSAT-1 project provides the UCD student team with a great opportunity to develop skills in satellite development, a first in the Irish space sector science education.’ He went on to highlight the benefits this would have beyond those directly participating in the project saying the ESA’s ‘Fly Your Satellite’ programme has the potential to drive interest in space and the space sector across all students in Ireland.

The project is being lead by UCD School of Physics Professor Lorraine Hanlon, who has said that ‘CubeSats such as EIRSAT-1 are disrupting the traditional space sector globally, proving a fast and cost effective route to gain spaceflight heritage.’