Limerick student project blasts off for outer space

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UL Space Experiment #1E5FD2by Kathy Masterson

 

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AN ORBITAL Sciences rocket blasted off from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in the USA this week, bringing with it an experiment designed by students from St Nessan’s Community College.

The students were winners of the Irish Centre for Composites Research (IComp) competition ‘The Only Way is Up’ that offered them the opportunity to bring their experiment to the International Space Station (ISS).

The experiment will investigate the effects of microgravity on reinforced concrete during its 30-day orbit of the Earth. It was designed and built by Jason Hannan, Kevin Hanley, Jamie O’Connell and Jonathan Roche with support from their teacher Gavin Doyle, while using the expertise of IComp and Irish Cement’s laboratory at its Drogheda facility. Irish Cement brought the experience to life by bringing the group to visit the NASA facility in May.

Jamie explained: “We spent about two months in class trying to get the mixture right. This is the sort of things that you cannot learn in a textbook. You have to work out the problems and the solutions for yourself and see what works best.”

The Limerick experiment will be activated by one of the astronauts at the space station. It will be returned to Limerick later in the summer for the students to carry out post-spaceflight analysis on the experiment and compare it to a ground controlled experiment.