Edenderry Astronauts in Training

Six students from Oaklands Community College are very excited about their upcoming trip to the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida to participate in the Student Astronaut Challenge. There was huge interest in the 5th year group when the trip was proposed. Students applied to participate and the team were all selected based on their strong applications and Junior Cert results in Maths and Science in particular. The students selected are Abdullah Butt, Rory Egan, Alan Harte, Katie Lawlor, Leanne Mallen and Thomas McAuliffe. They will travel to Florida on the 5th of February with teacher Ms Guinan. They have been working hard over the past few months, staying after school to prepare their lab challenge and practice the simulator. There are four parts to the competition, a lab challenge, engineering challenge, landing challenge and a simulator challenge.
This will be the third time that Oaklands have had a team in the competition. Once again, they will be the only Irish and International team to participate in the competition. The first team won the lab challenge, came second in the simulator and finished in 4th place overall. The 2017 team won the landing challenge, came second in the lab challenge and finished in third place overall. We hope that this years’ team will be equally successful.
For the lab challenge they had to select an aspect of weather that could use an improvement and devise an experiment which could provide a solution to improve the aspect. For their topic they are looking at rainfall in Ireland and focusing on flooding. They hope their proposed solution will ease flooding and alleviate potential flood damage. This draws on geographical, scientific and engineering knowledge. Their aim is that their solution will also be environmentally friendly and reduce costs and damage to property and roads. They have already submitted their proposal to the organisers and they will present their proposal to NASA judges in the Kennedy Space Centre during the competition.
They will also participate in an engineering challenge. This will require the students to work as a team and draw on their mathematical and engineering skills to solve the posed question. NASA engineers will again judge their performance.
The next two challenges are based on simulators. For the main simulator challenge three students will be in the simulator and three will be in Mission Control. Again, teamwork and communication skills are vital in order to successfully launch the shuttle, orbit earth and land safely back on the runway. For the simulator Abdullah Butt will assume the role of Mission Commander assisted by Pilot Thomas McAuliffe and Flight Engineer Leanne Mallen. In Mission Control, Katie Lawlor, Rory Egan and Alan Harte will communicate with the shuttle and talk them through their launch and, orbit and landing. The second simulator challenge will require two students from Mission Control to land the shuttle. One will land while the other talks them through the landing and then they will reverse roles and the second person will land the shuttle.
The team also have a logo which was designed by Katie Lawlor and represents the challenge ahead and all the members of the team. It also contains the school and Irish colours. They will wear this with pride over in Florida
We would like to thank our main sponsors Bord na Mona Powergen (incl. Edenderry Power Station/Mountlucas Wind Farm) and all the sponsors who have come on board to help make this trip a possibility. These are Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, TK Building Services, Collen Construction, Gemfler, Polar Ice, Kaideen & Co, O’Grady Cranes and Café India. We really appreciate your support, without it the trip would not be possible. We hope to do you proud at the Kennedy Space Centre.