Alexander set for lift-off to space school

Competition award winner Alexander Gillanders with Sinead O'Sullivan, former NASA research scientist and SRC student, and SRC chief executive Brian Doran. INPT05-014
Competition award winner Alexander Gillanders with Sinead O'Sullivan, former NASA research scientist and SRC student, and SRC chief executive Brian Doran. INPT05-014

A student from SRC’s Armagh campus is set for a space odyssey after winning a two-week placement to the United Space School in Houston, Texas.

Alexander Gillanders was chosen from 13 other applicants from the School of Applied Science and Academic Studies at Southern Regional College.

Applicants were asked to submit a 500-word essay, in which they had to imagine that they worked at NASA Mission Control and design a team of astronauts to travel to Mars in 2032.

The placement will begin in July and will see 40 students from 25 countries participate in the project. Alexander will get the opportunity to meet with astronauts, space doctors, spacesuit designers and geologists to name but a few.

As part of the application process, seven students were shortlisted and interviewed by former SRC student Sinead O’Sullivan, now chief executive at AviOptX and former research scientist in NASA, as well as SRC staff.

These were whittled down to three students, with Alexander announced as the winner at an event held in Armagh Planetarium.

Sinead spoke to students last year to encourage them to participate in the competition. She won the competition while studying for her A-levels at the college nine years ago.

The Foundation for International Space Education, FISE, is a private foundation with the mission to provide space-based academic instruction to international pre-collegiate students, while offering an introduction to the aerospace industry.

Sinead secured funding for the school fees from the School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast.