Irish scientists are celebrating following the successful deployment of Ireland’s first satellite into space. Signals beamed back from the device were received at stations on Earth including, for the first time in Ireland, in Co Donegal.
Eirsat-1 got a clean deployment from the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket which carried it into low earth orbit last night. It was a flawless launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It carried 25 different objects into space.
The satellite has been picked up by ground stations around the world. The launch teams in Dublin and California were able to conclude that it is in a very healthy state.
The team, composed mostly of young science students from UCD, watching the launch from mission control in California or in UCD, celebrated afterwards with pizza.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar congratulated those involved and posted on X (formerly Twitter) that he hoped “this hugely important Irish project will break new barriers for space research and education”.
UCD president Prof Orla Feely posted on X: “Looking up into the night sky over Dingle tonight. Amazing to know that Eirsat-1 is out there, designed and built in [UCD] and with a poem from schoolchildren in Ireland etched on its side.”
Eirsat-1 is a cube satellite and is tiny – about the size of a shoebox. The first active signal came approximately an hour and a half after launch from a ground station in Slovakia. The first Irish station to receive confirmation that Eirsat-1 had survived launch and deployment was in Co Donegal.
Research student Laura Cotter said the deployment of the satellite’s tiny antenna, without which it could not communicate with Earth, went perfectly.
“This morning we got our first signal at the UCD ground station,” she said.
Mission Control in California has concluded that the battery is charging as expected and the rotation rate of the satellite is on the low side. Satellites often spin violently after being discharged from a rocket.
It will be several years yet before the first experiments on the satellite are carried out.
Eirsat-1 carries on board equipment to carry out three experiments, one on gamma ray radiation, a second on temperature regulation in space and a third on how to orient satellites in the right direction.
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