No eggs in space, US astronaut tells Limerick schoolboy

A US astronaut has divulged a litle known secret about space travel to a Limerick schoolboy.

On a visit to Limerick Institute of Technology yesterday, Shuttle member, Gregory Johnson told Liam Liddane-Dillon, 12, from Monaleen if he wants to fly into space, take burgers.

But eggs are out. Specially the scrambled variety.

National and secondary school students from Limerick and Clare were a study in concentration in LIT as they heard the latest story in the institute’s remarkable and growing space footprint — an experiment sent on the 22 million kilometre journey to the International Space Centre in September to examine if plants can grow in space.

Mr Johnson, now manager of the International Space Centre US National Laboratory, gave students an insight into the 36 shuttle missions, including the two he flew on himself, to build the centre. He said LIT’s recent space initiatives are remarkable for an institute of its size.

“It’s fascinating what LIT is doing up in space. All root systems are based on gravity so what happens when they don’t have gravity ... that’s going to be very interesting. For an institute here in Ireland to have had an experiment on the final space shuttle mission and now one to the International Space Centre speaks to the energy and dedication of the faculty and the community,” he said.

Students grilled Mr Johnson on several topics, from how he slept in zero gravity, to what food he ate in space which came from Liam, 12, from Monaleen National School. The astronaut told Liam: “Pretty much every kind of food you can have here on earth. What I can tell you is hamburgers were tasty but the scrambled eggs not so good!” His top advice to the students was, however, don’t be afraid to dream.

“No dream is impossible and that’s what Science Week is all about. It’s about thinking about the possibilities and that all of you, no matter where you are from, all have the opportunity and live your dream,” he said.

“I don’t think, when we started out on this journey with space science research, we would have dreamed of having a Space Shuttle astronaut and an experiment of our own that had been tested in the International Space Centre on campus at the same time. It really is a remarkable time for us,” said LIT president Dr Maria Hinfelaar.

LIT’s main investigator for its experiment Professor Gary Stutte said: “Our work has also pretty much identified LIT as a platform in Ireland for launching experiments to space.”


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