Ireland’s first satellite set for ESA launch in coming months

5 Oct 2022

Image: © Manuel Mata/

EIRSAT-1, developed by a team at UCD, is expected to launch from the ESA base in French Guiana later this year or in early 2023.

Ireland’s first satellite has moved a step closer to launch and is expected to reach space within the next few months.

The EIRSAT-1 satellite is being developed team of researchers and students at University College Dublin (UCD). It is expected to be launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) from its base in French Guiana later this year or early 2023.

The announcement came in a Cabinet meeting, where Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, TD, was authorised to sign an exchange of letters with the ESA ahead of the launch, The Irish Times reports.

The EIRSAT-1 satellite in a white background.

Rendering of EIRSAT-1 when deployed. The satellite is the size of a shoebox. Image: EIRSAT-1 team

A spokesperson for Varadkar said Ireland must register the satellite with the UN and confirm that EIRSAT-1 is recognised as an Irish mission prior to the launch.

Ireland is currently the only full member of the ESA that does not have its own satellite, but the EIRSAT-1 team hopes to change that.

The team has been busy in the lead up to the satellite launch. On EIRSAT-1’s Twitter page, the team recently said it has performed end-to-end testing on the rooftops of UCD.

First announced in May 2017, EIRSAT-1 is a miniature cube satellite, or cubesat, being designed, built and tested at UCD.

Its mission is to provide training and education for students in all major aspects of satellite development, under the guidance of academics, industry mentors and the ESA.

While in space, EIRSAT-1 will detect and record bursts of gamma rays using a detector developed by UCD’s Space Science group.

It will also test a new attitude control system – which helps orient and position a spacecraft – developed by the Dynamics and Control group at UCD, and test the performance of protective coatings made by Irish space-tech company Enbio.

Last year, the EIRSAT-1 team ran environmental tests on the satellite at an ESA facility in Belgium over a five-week period.

The satellite is based in the UCD Centre for Space Research (C-Space), which was launched in December 2020 as Ireland’s first dedicated hub for space-related research, innovation and education.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic