Kieran T, presently in the RGS Fourth Form, has always had a passion for astrophysics and interstellar space travel. His dedication and sheer determination to maximise his learning in these subjects is remarkable and was quickly recognised when he was invited to join the Initiative for Interstellar Studies (i4is) four years ago. This global, not for profit organisation works towards deep space exploration. I4is counts amongst its members many international professionals working in various fields connected with space travel.
I4is have an examination paper called the ‘Interstellar Minimum’. It examines the candidate’s knowledge of various space propulsion systems, ranging from chemical rockets, solar and laser sails to nuclear fusion. It is aimed at A Level/Under Graduate Level. Kieran sat this paper in 2015 and to date is the only person to reach the pass mark. An astonishing achievement and testament to his self taught knowledge of these subjects. To mark this achievement, Kieran was asked to write the guest introduction to the i4is magazine and was elected as the youngest corporate member of the organisation.
Kieran has also been asked to write a chapter of an i4is book, which should be published mid 2018. The book will bring together scientists from around the world, discussing their ground breaking theories on interstellar travel.
Kieran is now closely involved with one of i4is’s most exciting endeavours called ‘Project Glowworm’. One of the stages of Glowworm is the launch of the world’s smallest satellite, scheduled for next year. The final goal of Glowworm is to launch the world’s first laser sail powered spacecraft to prove that lasers can propel probes through space. This will be a forerunner to the internationally ambitious ‘Breakthrough Starshot Programme’ to send miniature laser sail powered spacecraft 24 trillion miles to our nearest star Alpha Centauri at 20% of the speed of light.
Kieran has given presentations on Glowworm and Starshot to both the Lower and Upper school assemblies. He was also invited by Eastbourne Astronomical Society to give a talk on these exciting endeavours. This talk was attended by 80 people and Kieran took many questions from the knowledgeable audience, before being warmly applauded and congratulated.
These projects are fast moving and at the leading edge of our technological boundaries. Kieran has agreed to give updated presentations next year and we look forward to hearing these and following his progress. He is an extraordinary student and clearly has a bright and exciting future ahead of him.