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Irish students’ experiment in space

Four Irish science students have had their experiment sent into space after winning a competition.

Irish students at NASAKevin Hanley, Jason Hannan, Jamie O’Connell, and Jonathan Roche from St Nessan’s Community College, Limerick, designed an experiment that will test how concrete sets in micro gravity.

They entered a competition called ‘The Only Way is Up’, which was ran by the Irish Centre for Composites Research (IComp).

After they were announced as winners they worked closely with experts from IComp and Irish Cement to build the experiment.

They then visited NASA Wallops Flight Facility in May and their experiment was sent to the International Space Station last week. It will be activated by an astronaut who will mix the cement, water, gravel mix and Mafic Basalt fibres in a tube while in space.

The cement will be setting for 30 days as it orbits the earth. It will be returned later in the summer and compared with a control experiment

O’Connell said: “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.”

It is the first Irish secondary school experiment to take place in space. St Nessans Principal Eugene O’Brien says that the experiment has whetted the college’s appetite to take part in similar projects in the future.

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