Ireland launched EIRSAT-1, its first-ever satellite, on Friday, December 1, after more than six years of research, design, and building. 

The European Space Agency (ESA) live streamed the launch from California on Friday afternoon. 

EIRSAT-1, which is smaller than a typical shoebox, was designed at UCD and is set to be launched aboard the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket from Vandenberg Air Base in California on Friday. 

The team behind EIRSAT-1 was in California on Friday waving the Irish flag ahead of the historic launch:

Some of the team ready to watch the launch in California! 🚀#EIRSAT1 #irelandsfirstsatellite #flyyoursatellite #launchday

— EIRSAT-1 (@EIRSAT1) December 1, 2023

Dr. David McKeown of UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering told the Irish Times that the launch would make a "statement" about Ireland's space technology capabilities. 

"This is a first for Ireland, we are about to become a spacefaring nation," McKeown said.

"The launch makes a statement about Ireland’s space technology capabilities, and how we can join other small countries in contributing to the fast-growing global space industry." 

McKeown, who is engineering manager of the EIRSAT-1 team, said it will take around 45 minutes for the satellite's antennas to deploy and start transmitting once the satellite is launched from the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket. 

"Approximately two hours later, it will first pass over our ground station in UCD and we have the possibility to receive our first signals from the satellite," McKeown told the Irish Times. 

The satellite was built in UCD with support from the European Space Agency's "Fly Your Satellite!" student program, with around 50 students taking part in the project. 

Professor Sheila McBreen, an astrophysicist at the UCD School of Physics who was involved in overseeing the project, told RTÉ News that students have received direct training in how to design, build, assemble, and test a satellite for space. 

"Now they're going to operate that satellite.... those are skills you can't learn on paper," McBreen told RTÉ. 

President of UCD Professor Orla Feely said she was proud of the work accomplished during the project so far. 

"The notion that a satellite that was imagined and designed and built in Belfield, where we worked with school children to compose a poem in celebration of the voyage that is etched on the side of the satellite. It's a wonderful, inspirational story and we are so proud of it," Feely told RTÉ.