“Marlborough, the experiment is a go, you are clear to launch.”
For the first time, MCM joined a NASA competition to have real astronauts place a student-designed experiment on to the actual International Space Station, which blasted off from the Mission Discovery challenge centre in Singapore, with over 300 students from all over Singapore and Asia, on 21st – 25th October 2019 at 9.15 sharp. The demanding week-long competition was totally focussed on excellent teamwork and packed full of innovative science and creative experiences that will live in all of our memories forever.
The first day was split between many challenges that included the NASA team building and Mars Lander Team Challenge in which the winning lander was co-designed by one of our very own MCM pupils, a sign of things to come.
Day two we had the real joy of getting to know an actual astronaut, Dominic A. Antonelli, who was a great inspiration for every person and MCM pupils in the auditorium.
Day three was the essential budgeting and planning skills required to make our MCM experiments feasible for space travel, led by the firm and friendly Sarah Murray. The International Space Station environment was a humorous lecture at times on how to get along in space.
Day four taught us about the details of space experiment requirements and pharmacology and space. Nighttime was spent by many teams until the late hours, fine-tuning their presentations to exemplify their teamwork and ideas.
Throughout the competition, Mr Inskip and Mrs Hughes were stunned by the immense talent, skill, resilience and can-do attitude of all of our pupils and the desire to succeed as a team. The final countdown on Friday, our last day, started with the elimination round resulting in only five teams going through to the final session. The stars were following us because we had MCM pupils in three out of the five final teams. Drum roll, into the final result and amazingly we had two MCM pupils in the winning team. We had two of our own pupils help design the experiment that will now be built in Houston and be taken by astronauts to the International Space Station. I need to genuinely praise every pupil’s parents, grandparents, early school teachers, Prep School beaks and Senior School beaks and inspirational mentors. Thank you. We won because of everyone around us.
On my way to down to the cafeteria for lunch on Tuesday, I found myself alone in the elevator with astronaut Tony Antonelli, purely by chance, and I began to talk with him about what it was like in space. In the walk over to lunch, we talked about the absolute sublimity of being in space, as well as the future of material science and then how the space industry is always copying people – it was incredible to talk to him, one of the only humans who has left the planet. Later, this chat with him inspired me to pursue an experiment on material sciences – looking at ferro fluids in prolonged exposure to microgravity. – Joao