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Wednesday 30 July 2014

We have lift-off – students' project blasts into orbit

David Raleigh

Published 16/07/2014|02:30

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St Nessan’s students (from left) Jason Hannon, Jonathon Roche, Jamie O'Connell and Kevin Hanley, whose gravity experiment has been taken into space

An Irish student research project has been launched into space as part of an American space gravity experiment.

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The Orbital Sciences rocket blasted off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in the USA, bringing with it an experiment designed by students from St Nessan's Community College, Limerick.

The students were winners of a competition 'The Only Way is Up' run by the Irish Centre for Composites Research (IComp), which offered them an opportunity to bring their experiment to the International Space Station (ISS).

The space experiment – investigating the effects of microgravity on reinforced concrete while spending 30 days orbiting the earth – was designed and built by Jason Hannan, Kevin Hanley, Jamie O'Connell and Jonathan Roche with support from their teacher Gavin Doyle.

Irish Cement also brought the experience to life by bringing the Irish group to visit the NASA facility in May and provided the added expertise of the Irish Centre for Composites Research and Irish Cement's laboratory at its Drogheda facility.

Group member Jamie said the team wanted to test how concrete sets in micro-gravity.

"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," said the St Nessan's student.

The experiment will be 'activated' by an astronaut on the space station to mix the components in the tube which contains cement, water, sand/gravel mix and mafic basalt fibres.

It will then be returned later in the summer for the students to carry out analysis on the experiment.

Irish Independent

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