Norah's on a mission to be the first Irish astronaut
A SPACE researcher who will help launch Ireland's first student experiment into space has high hopes of becoming our first astronaut.
Dr Norah Patten (30) has been obsessed with exploring outer space since she first visited the NASA research centre in Cleveland, Ohio, aged 11.
With a doctorate in aeronautical engineering from the University of Limerick and numerous other qualifications under her belt, she is striving to join the astronaut programme at the European Space Agency and be the first Irish person in space.
"I've made it my issue to get there over the past 20 years," she said ahead of an Astronomy Ireland lecture at Trinity College last night.
She is currently working as communications and outreach manager for the Irish Centre for Composites Research (IComp) at UL.
She just returned from the NASA Wallops Flight Centre in Virginia with four students from St Nessan's Community College in Limerick, who won a competition for scientific applications that can be used by the astronautics industry.
Their experiment will blast off with the Orbital Sciences Orb-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) this summer.
It involves analysing the effect microgravity has on the setting of reinforced concrete in space to see whether lunar materials like moon dust can be used to make cement for future houses and buildings on the moon.