Ireland’s First Satellite Is Ready to Launch

A presentation on EirSat-1. (Photo: Loraine Hanlon / Twitter)

By Olivia O’Mahony, Editorial Assistant
August / September 2017

For the first time in history, the Irish are poised to make a material contribution to the night sky. In May, the European Space Agency confirmed the launch of Ireland’s first satellite, dubbed Educational Research Satellite-1, or EirSat-1. The satellite was built under the ESA education office’s Fly Your Satellite! 2017 program, and is owned and built by an Irish team and operated by University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast. It will be released from the International Space Station to join many others of its kind that orbit the Earth.

The purpose of EirSat-1 is to provide training and research opportunities for students of satellite development, under guidance from academic mentors and the ESA. It will also act as a tangible representative for Irish space research, aiding outreach programs at Blackrock Castle Observatory and Cork Institute to ignite interest in potential students of STEM subjects. The satellite contains two different payloads containing technology from industry partners, each of which will enter outer space for the first time.

“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,” said Professor Lorraine Hanlon of UCD’s School of Physics, the lead scientist on the project.

Though this is the first Irish-made object to be launched into space, Ireland’s research role has always been a sizable one: the Birr Castle telescope in Co. Offaly provided an intimate look into the heavens from 1845 – 1914, and the ESA’s Laurence O’Rourke was integral to comet-chaser Rosetta’s contact with Comet 67p in 2014. ♦

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