Will there really be an Irish astronaut in the not too distant future?
According to reports in the morning’s papers, NASA has chosen Ireland to be its first international research partner. So will we see an Irishman in space soon enough?
There’s a lot of talk about science this morning but what’s it all about?
Well NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has chosen Ireland as its first global research partner. A lot of people think this could be the first small step to getting an Irishman into space. However, it’s sure to take Ireland one giant leap closer to making a mark on the final frontier.
Today also marks the start of the Euroscience Open Forum, which kicks off from 11-15 of July here in Dublin. Dublin is actually the 2012 City of Science so it’s a great year for us altogether – where science is concerned. It will also explain why Pearse Street is covered in all that cool science related graffiti art.
But what exactly is going down? Are they setting up a launchpad over here?
No, not exactly. What they’ve actually done is form a partnership with Irish universities that will give Irish scientists a chance to work at the world’s leading research facilities over in the US. NASA isn’t really doing much these days by all accounts. Their budget has been completely slashed (thank you Mr Obama) so there’s no point in all that lovely equipment going to waste.
How come we got selected? Did they just pluck our name out of a space helmet?
Not at all. It has taken two years of tough negotiations on our part to get this far. According to the Irish Daily Mirror, Tim Quigley, a retired Naval officer and former commander of Moffet Airfield at Ames base in California was the go-between man who pushed to ensure that Ireland secured the project.
Speaking about the announcement, which is to be made at Trinity College tomorrow, Tim said, “Our intent is to provide and enrich Irish scientists with an opportunity to partner and learn and contribute to the spectrum of science and engineering and research opportunities that exposure to NASA and its resources would enable. My long-term goal is to have a native Irish astronaut in NASA … That ought to be the national goal.”
We also, it must be said, have the Irish consulate in San Francisco to thank for the ‘out of this world’ news.
Okay, enough with the awful puns. What exactly are we going to get from this? An Irish astronaut?
Well, as Quigley said, the ultimate goal is to get an Irish lad (or lass) into space sooner rather than later. According to the Irish Times, it is expected the initial agreement will see two Irish undergraduates travel to the US each year to work and study at the Ames base. Eventually, all Irish universities will be invited to participate.
So you could have Mick and Seamus floating in orbit…
Well it may take a few years before we see ‘the lads’ in space, but haven’t we already had a few of our own up there? Take Eileen Collins who was the first female commander of a space shuttle back in 1995. Sure, both of her parents are from Cork. That’s close enough…