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01 September 2011
Biosciences student Kyle Grant will spend the next year exploring deep space – or, at least, exploring the possibilities.
Kyle leaves shortly for a placement with the Space Life Science Lab at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. He will be researching the practicalities of deep space flight with NASA – and undertaking some simulated zero-gravity training himself.
The year-long placement will also take in work at the Johnson Space Centre in Texas and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
Kyle is a microbiology undergraduate who also studies astrophysics. He found out about the research from an advert on the NASA astrobiology website.
Kyle said: "I decided that some people do the lottery, so why shouldn’t I give this a shot? It’s incredibly competitive. A lot of US students apply for NASA internships, so I’ve been quite lucky."
NASA’s deep space programme aims to spend people to Mars and the asteroids by the 2020s and 2030s. Kyle will be working with Professor Jamie Foster on life support systems on the deep space craft, in particular the use of microorganisms and their effect on the human body in microgravity. This includes waste recycling and food re-growth for space journeys of around 500 days. Kyle will also get the chance to experience deep space conditions himself in simulated flights.
Kyle has just completed his second year at the School of Biosciences and will return after his year with NASA. He said: "My tutor Dr Andy Morby has been incredibly helpful, getting me through the paperwork. It really is a fantastic opportunity, I’m hoping that after I graduate, I will be able to return there to work."
His tutor, Dr Morby, added : "Kyle is an inspirational student and an exemplar for what can be achieved with hard work, determination and focus. I look forward to hearing of his exploits on his return to more terrestrial microbiology next year."
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