Having flown higher than any Cork flag in history, the blood and bandages that once orbited the globe have returned to Earth.

Last night, at a special presentation, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Paolo Nespoli presented flags representing both the Rebel County and the Cork Institute of Technology to both the mayors for Cork city and county, as well as the CIT President, having brought the banners with him into space.

CIT had hosted the hugely successful International Space University Space Studies Programme last year and, during the programme, Mr Nespoli took the two Cork flags to the International Space Station on board Expedition 52/53.

The two flags were launched from the Soyuz MS-05 on July 27 last year from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and returned to Earth on December 14 after spending 139 days in space.

At the Cork School of Music last night, Mr Nespoli presented the two flags and a third flag of the International Space University to the Lord Mayor of Cork Mick Finn and Mayor of Cork County Patrick Gerard Murphy, as well as to the CIT head Barry O’Connor.

Mr Nespoli also gave a talk to the audience, entitled ‘In Space for the Earth’.

The trip was Mr Nespoli’s third visit to the ISS alongside ISS mission commander US astronaut Colonel Randolph Bresnik, and Russian cosmonaut and
ISS flight engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy.

While on board the ISS, the flags would have travelled at speeds of some 17,150 miles an hour — or five miles a second.

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