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“Ireland Launches EIRSAT-1, Initiating Official Entry into Satellite Space Exploration”

In a historic achievement after six years of development, Ireland’s EIRSAT-1 satellite has successfully launched into low-Earth orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. The cube satellite, a collaboration led by students from University College Dublin (UCD), aims to conduct groundbreaking research on gamma-ray bursts, the universe’s most luminous events.

Following a 6:20 p.m. Irish time launch, the EIRSAT-1 team, stationed at a mission control site in the US and UCD, confirmed the satellite’s separation from the rocket at around 8:10 p.m. Initial tests will now be conducted to ensure signal connectivity and the proper functioning of the satellite.

Apart from its primary scientific mission, which includes thermal-coating studies and an innovative spacecraft orientation control system, EIRSAT-1 strives to elevate Ireland’s higher education sector in space science and engineering. The mission actively addresses skill shortages in the space sector by fostering collaboration between student teams and industry partners, aiming to inspire the next generation of students to pursue STEM subjects.

The outer cover of the satellite’s antenna deployment module features a poem titled ‘All Ways Home,’ symbolising the educational and inspirational aspirations of the mission. EIRSAT-1, the flagship project of the UCD Centre for Space Research, the UCD School of Physics, and the UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, originated from its acceptance into the European Space Agency’s ‘Fly Your Satellite’ programme in 2017.

This initiative by the ESA Academy empowers European university students to design, launch, and operate their satellites for space research. The EIRSAT-1 team collaborated with ESA experts to acquire the necessary skills for satellite design and construction, marking a significant step forward in Ireland’s space exploration and education endeavours.

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