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it's ok to experiment

A bit of Limerick has been sent to space (...sort of)

Four Limerick students have had their experiment sent to the International Space Station, thanks to NASA.

Ireland's First Secondary School Experiment in Space: The Only Way is Up / YouTube

A GROUP OF Limerick students saw their work blasted off into space at the weekend – literally.

The work by students from St Nessan’s Community College, Limerick was sent on an Orbital Sciences rocket that left from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in the USA on Sunday.

On board was their experiment, after they won a competition called The Only Way is Up, which was run by the Irish Centre for Composites Research (IComp).

This competition offered them the chance to bring their experiment to the International Space Station (ISS).

A trip to NASA

The winning experiment will investigate the effects of microgravity on reinforced concrete while spending 30 days orbiting 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.

To put it all together, they used the expertise of the Irish Centre for Composites Research and Irish Cement’s laboratory at its Drogheda facility.

Irish Cement also brought the group to visit the NASA facility in May.

science gif

How it all works

The students want to test how concrete sets in micro-gravity.

St Nessan’s student, Jamie O’Connell explained:

We spent about two months in class trying to get the mixture right. This is the sort of thing that you cannot learn in a text book. You have to work out the problems and the solutions for yourself and see what works best.

An astronaut on the ISS will activate the experiment by mixing the components in the tube: Irish Cement, water, sand/gravel mix and Mafic Basalt fibres.

This will then be returned later in the summer for the students to carry out post-spaceflight analysis and compare it to a ground controlled (to Major Tom) experiment.

Read: ‘It just takes your breath away’: What it’s like to step into space for the first time>

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