Ireland's first satellite moves step closer to launch

Ireland's first ever satellite has moved a step closer to launch, successfully completing the European Space Agency's design review.

The University College Dublin team behind EIRSAT-1 will now move it to the next phase, assembling and testing a prototype of the small satellite.

The spacecraft was accepted into ESA's Fly Your Satellite! Programme last year and since then the scientists developing it have been busily preparing the technical plans.

"CubeSats such as EIRSAT-1 are disrupting the traditional space sector globally, providing a fast and cost effective route to gaining spaceflight heritage," said Professor Lorraine Hanlon, UCD School of Physics and EIRSAT-1 Project Leader.

"As an emerging space nation, Ireland's future space endeavours will benefit from the skills developed by the talented team of UCD students who are building EIRSAT-1."

It is a miniature satellite or CubeSat, similar in size to an average shoebox with three scientific experiments on board.

These experiments will be developed in collaboration with industry partners like Irish companies ENBIO and SensL.

The experiments include a gamma-ray detector, called GMOD, which aims to detect gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic explosions in the universe, which occur when some stars die or collide.

Another experiment is EMOD, an in-flight demonstration of thermal control coatings developed by ENBIO.

The third, called Wave-Based Control, or WBC, tests a UCD-developed algorithm to control the movement of EIRSAT-1.

The prototype will now be built and tested in new clean rooms on the university's campus.

If it passes all the subsequent reviews, the satellite will be delivered to ESA in mid-2020.

Once launched, it will stay in space for between six and 12 months and communicate data to Earth via a ground radio station, located at EIRSAT-1 mission control in the UCD School of Physics.

The announcement was made as Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan, met the 16 members of the team during a visit to UCD.

The students are funded by the Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland and ESA.

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