IRELAND is boldly going where it has never gone before by preparing to launch its first ever satellite in space.
The EIRSAT-1 satellite will be launched from the International Space Station and will orbit the earth for 12 months, if it passes the testing of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The project is led by researchers and students at University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast in partnership with five Irish companies.
EIRSAT-1 will gather data on Gamma Ray Bursts and will test innovative Irish space technologies.
It is being developed under the ESA's 'Fly Your Satellite! 2017' programme and those involved hope it will inspire more young people to get involved with subjects like cience, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Professor Lorraine Hanlon of UCD’s School of Physics, who is lead professor on the project, said: “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.
“This hard work will prepare them very well for future careers in the space sector.”
Ireland's first satellite given go ahead by ESA. Exciting times! https://t.co/hjay5f2ixn
— AstroUCD (@astroucd) May 23, 2017
EIRSAT-1’s systems engineer is David Murphy, a PhD student in the UCD Space Science group.
He said: “Working on EIRSAT-1 is an unprecedented opportunity for Irish students. When I started my PhD I hoped that I'd be helping to push forward the design of a gamma-ray detector that might someday fly in space.
“I never expected that as a student I'd be responsible for flying that detector on Ireland's first satellite.”
EIRSAT-1 will orbit the Earth gathering data for approximately 12 months and will be controlled from UCD, where a ground station in the School of Physics will act as its command centre.
Over the coming months the space craft will be designed, tested and readied for launch.
The Irish Government has welcomed the announcement, saying that “as Ireland has never launched a satellite of its own this mission represents a first for the island of Ireland and a giant leap for the Irish Space Sector and will be of enormous interest to the entire community.”