Ireland to launch its first satellite into space

Ireland’s first space mission will see the launch of EIRSAT-1 for a four-year mission.

The Irish Government has signed an agreement with the European Space Agency to facilitate the launch of Ireland’s first satellite.

The satellite EIRSAT-1 was designed and built by academic staff and students at University College Dublin.

“This is a big moment for the Irish space sector as this is Ireland’s first mission into space. It has huge spin off potential for Irish businesses and universities”

EIRSAT-1 will launch from the European Space Agency (ESA) base in French Guiana early next year for a four-year mission.

Lift off

Man and woman discussing space tech.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, TD with Professor Orla Feely, vice-president For Research, Innovation And Impact at UCD. Picture: Jason Clarke

“This is a big moment for the Irish space sector as this is Ireland’s first mission into space,” Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said.

“It has huge spin off potential for Irish businesses and universities.  We have increased our financial contribution to the European Space Agency which is paid back in multiples in terms of contracts for Irish aviation and aerospace companies.

“EIRSAT-1 has been led by a talented team in UCD, and seen the development of space systems skills that did not previously exist in Irish industry or academia. It will position our nation to benefit from global space industry growth in the coming decades.”

The Exchange of Letters between the Government of Ireland and the European Space Agency sets out their mutual understanding of the EIRSAT-1 mission, the first Irish mission carried out under Ireland’s domestic jurisdiction.

The Government granted authorisation to the Tánaiste to sign the letters on their behalf at the Cabinet meeting on 4 October.

The Tánaiste and UCD also signed a Registration and Supervision Agreement which sets out the details required for the registration and supervision of the mission throughout its lifetime.

“It’s a great testament to the hard work by the entire EIRSAT-1 team that they have progressed the project to this exciting stage. Through their energy, determination and expertise, coupled with Ireland’s membership of the European Space Agency, we are now almost ready to launch and operate our first ever satellite in outer space.  It has been a pleasure to watch the development of this ambitious project, and I look forward to watching it blast-off early next year from French Guiana.”

EIRSAT-1 is the Educational Irish Research Satellite 1, a flagship project of UCD C-Space, the Centre for Space Research at University College Dublin, supported by the ESA Education Office under its Fly Your Satellite! programme. It has received funding from: Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Research Council, Enterprise Ireland, UCD, Openet, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO).

“Ireland’s membership of the European Space Agency has been vital to EIRSAT-1’s development, both in the early stages, when we were developing prototype space detectors based on Irish technologies, and more recently, when EIRSAT-1 was accepted on to ESA’s educational ‘Fly Your Satellite!’ Programme,” said the director of UCD C-Space Centre and the EIRSAT-1 project, Professor Lorraine Hanlon.

“It is a huge milestone for the mission to be signing these agreements, and we are excited to keep working towards launch and operations next year.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.