UCD launches Centre for Space Research

Ireland’s first satellite Eirsat-1 ready to go into orbit next year
Principle researchers from the EIRSAT group. Credit: UCD

15 December 2020

C-Space, the UCD Centre for Space Research was officially opened today. The first of its kind centre is expected to boost Ireland’s space industry and provide vital skills and training for jobs of the future.

By building on nationally leading projects such as Eirsat-1, Ireland’s first satellite, UCD said C-Space will be a key national resource for space expertise and training. The centre will focus on current key space research themes, including: astrophysics; earth observation; gamma-ray detectors; nanosatellites and payloads; space materials and space structure dynamics and control.

The core research is underpinned by a cross-cutting industry support facility, to ensure a broad, positive impact for society and the economy from C-Space’s activities.




“As well as performing excellent space-related fundamental and applied interdisciplinary research,” said Prof Lorraine Hanlon, centre director, UCD School of Physics, “our purpose is also to build academic and industrial partnerships that advance the use of space to address global scientific and societal challenges.”

C-Space will support industry through consultancy, collaborations, and access to test facilities. In addition, the centre will help to ensure that industry needs are met through university-based courses such as a master’s degree programme in space science and technology and continuing professional development courses.

“UCD has a distinguished record in astrophysics and space research dating from the 1960s and continuing to the present day with the development of Eirsat-1, Ireland’s first satellite,” said Prof Orla Feely, UCD vice president for research, innovation & impact. “With the launch of C-Space, UCD will build our academic and industry relationships across the global space sector, developing our talent at home and maximising for Ireland the many technological and economic opportunities in this exciting field.”

From GPS tracking that enables the global shipping industry, to monitoring crop yields and managing food supply, the space sector plays an increasingly important role in daily life. Space contributes approximately €80 billion to the European economy annually. There are currently many sectors and businesses that rely on space systems and space data, and the number will increase dramatically in the next 10 years – with the evolution of new future networks-enabled technologies such as driverless cars, remote robotic surgery and automated agriculture.

“Ireland’s growing space sector is creating high value jobs that require people with specific skill sets to enable Irish space companies to succeed in the global marketplace,” said Danny Gleeson, chair of the Irish Space Industry Group. “We wholeheartedly welcome the establishment of the UCD Centre for Space Research and its commitment to produce graduates and professional training courses to meet the demands of the expanding Irish space sector and supporting the Government’s National Space Strategy for Enterprise.”

The UCD C-Space virtual launch event featured a line-up of prominent speakers, including: Prof Michael Rast, head of earth observation science strategy at the European Space Agency (ESA); Prof Malcolm Macdonald, founding director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications and Prof Lorraine Hanlon, director of C-Space at UCD.

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