LIMERICK native Cyril Bennis is still waiting to become the first Irishman to reach space on a commercial flight, while a local researcher is determined to become the nation’s first astronaut.
Dr Norah Patten, 30, of the University of Limerick, has not given up on her childhood dreams to reach space - which she has held since first visiting NASA’s centre in Ohio, aged 11.
Dr Patten was speaking at a public lecture in Dublin this week, organised by Astronomy Ireland, after spending the last week with NASA in the USA preparing to launch the first Irish student experiment into space.
She just returned from the NASA Wallops Flight Centre in Virginia with four transition year students from St Nessan’s Community College, who won a national competition for scientific applications that can be used by the astronautics industry.
Their experiment 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.
The four students - Jason Hannan, Jamie O’Connell, Kevin Hanley and Johnathan Roche, pictured above - have just returned from Virginia USA where they carried out final checks on their experiment.