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Irish students take giant leap to present project at US space conference

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Fifth-year pupils at St Flannan's College in Ennis, Naem Haq, Adam Downes, Cian Pyne, Jack O'Connor and Garabhan Monahan. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

Fifth-year pupils at St Flannan's College in Ennis, Naem Haq, Adam Downes, Cian Pyne, Jack O'Connor and Garabhan Monahan. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

The St Flannan's College team on stage at the International Space Development Conference

The St Flannan's College team on stage at the International Space Development Conference

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Fifth-year pupils at St Flannan's College in Ennis, Naem Haq, Adam Downes, Cian Pyne, Jack O'Connor and Garabhan Monahan. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

Five Irish fifth year physics students took their own giant leap when they presented a prize-winning project for a human settlement in space to a prestigious international conference in the US.

The team from St Flannan’s College in Ennis, Co Clare, received a standing ovation for their imaginative plan for a “space city” where 10,000 people could live in an Earth like environment, featuring hydroponic farms - where plants grow in liquid rather than soil – a film studio and a zero gravity leisure and sports area.

They set out the scientific basis for their design in a 49-page submission, which beat more than 3,000 entries – involving 17,000 students, from 22 countries.

Their entry in the National Space Society (NSS) competition landed them the highest honour, the Grand Prize, and an opportunity to present to the 40th the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) 2022 in Arlington over the weekend.

They flew from Shannon Airport earlier this week, with teachers John Conneely, Michael Horgan and Teresa Considine, to  attend the ISDC, where current ideas and plans for space travel, space development and space settlements and connects are shred and discussed

The students - Adam Downes, Cian Pyne, Garabhan Monahan, Jack O'Connor and Naem Haq - called their projected Mag Mell, which comes from Irish mythology as one of the names of the Celtic Otherworld.

The NSS judges were impressed by the team’s focus on the necessary raw materials for survival and where to get them –  primarily via a space elevator from the surface of Ceres, a resource-rich planet in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

The judges also praised the team for showing “a lot of awareness for some of the more innovative ideas out there for enabling a sustainable and profitable commercial space sector”.


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