It has been 7 months since EIRSAT-1 was chosen as one of the CubeSats to be part of the European Space Agency’s Fly Your Satellite! Programme 2017, and what an exciting 7 months it has been! As the year draws to a close and our team members finish up for the Christmas break, we are looking back at the evolution of the mission so far.
Starting off as a proposal to the Fly Your Satellite! programme in March, the team’s invitation to the Selection Workshop gave us the chance to pitch to ESA experts and the Fly Your Satellite! team. The excitement of a trip to ESTEC, ESA’s Space Technology Research Centre, gave us a glimpse of what a ground-breaking journey building a satellite would be. We waited anxiously to hear if we had been selected, and in May we heard that EIRSAT-1 is one of the 6 satellites chosen to be part of the programme.
The journey since May has been incredible. Weekly meetings are fueled by enthusiastic team members, all of whom share a common goal – to get Ireland’s first satellite into space. Since May, we have each worked on a different subsystem of the spacecraft – for example On Board Data Handling, or our experiments, EMOD, GMOD and WBC. The design of these subsystems have been refined and documented in our Critical Design Review documents. These documents amounted to just under 500 pages, and was the result of many months of hard work. Seeing our satellite existing on paper made us very proud and excited for the next steps.
These documents were sent to both the Fly Your Satellite! team and ESA experts and we awaited feedback. This feedback came in the form of RIDs – Review Item Discrepancies. We had a deadline to answer these RIDs and come up with solutions to any problems the experts highlighted. This deadline culminated in a trip to ESA’s ESTEC centre for the Critical Design Review workshop, where we had one-on-one meetings with the ESA experts for each subsystem and discussed any open issues. We also took part in a soldering workshop, lectures and gave a presentation to the other teams taking part in the programme. We returned from ESTEC with actions from the ESA experts, which we must act on and respond to in the new year in order to pass to the next stage of the mission. The trip also gave us an extra boost – seeing Ireland’s flag at ESTEC, and sitting one-on-one talking about our satellite with ESA experts made the mission very real and has instilled a huge excitement in us all for the next steps.
This year has been a whirlwind for the EIRSAT-1 team. We have worked extremely hard, and it is hard to think that in 7 months we have designed Ireland’s first satellite. The Christmas break will give us a chance to recharge so that we can come back ready to face the challenges ahead in 2018. Amongst these challenges are building prototypes and testing them in both an earth environment and a simulated space environment. We look forward to embarking on this journey, but also to sharing this journey with you along the way.
Merry Christmas to all who have supported us over the past year and a very Happy New Year! Looking forward to the sharing the adventures ahead in 2018 with you all.