Ireland set to launch first satellite next year

Ireland set to launch first satellite next year

IRELAND IS set to launch its first satellite next year after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today signed an Exchange of Letters with the European Space Agency (ESA).

The letters facilities the launch of the satellite, which will be called EIRSAT-1 and has been designed and built by academic staff and students at University College Dublin (UCD).

The satellite will be launched for a four-year mission from the ESA's base in French Guinea early next year.

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.

"This is a big moment for the Irish space sector as this is Ireland’s first mission into space," 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."

Director of UCD C-Space Centre and the EIRSAT-1 project, Professor Lorraine Hanlon said:

"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. 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."

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.