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Singaporean team successfully launches rats towards space

SINGAPORE — The team hoping to send a Singaporean to space has completed a groundbreaking experiment — after three rats sent to space returned to Earth alive.

Singaporean team successfully launches rats towards space

Lab rats, part of INGenius' test run. Photo: Lim Seng

SINGAPORE — The team hoping to send a Singaporean to space has completed a groundbreaking experiment — after three rats sent to space returned to Earth alive.

Mr Lim Seng, founder and Managing Director of InGenius — the company behind the project — told Channel NewsAsia that all three rats survived the flight, which crossed the Armstrong Line, using stratospheric balloons. The flight lasted 110 minutes, achieving an altitude of 29.5km.

“This is quite remarkable,” Mr Lim said.

The experiment, conducted in Hyderabad, India, saw the rats contained in a prototype capsule designed to reach an altitude of 32km. Pressure was kept constant, and the temperature was a comfortable 28 degrees Celsius. The rats returned to land in “very good condition”, Mr Lim said.

“They were active, jumping around — this is after they sustained a good amount of free fall,” he said.

This experiment was conducted as a test run, before Mr Lim’s team plans to send a Singaporean to space on May 12, in Alice Springs, Australia.

“We wanted to send a first Singaporean to cross the Armstrong line into space, to open up the minds of our people — so they can go beyond the boundaries,” he said.

Mr Lim added that the successful experiment was “very meaningful”, as it shows the oxygen supply within the prototype capsule is sufficient to prevent hypoxia. “The oxygen is good, the landing system is good, the pressurisation is sufficient for the rats, which means it is good for humans,” Mr Lim said. “All the components survived the vacuum, which is very important.”

He added that the project would not be able to take off without the help of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

As for now, Mr Lim and his team from INGenius will be applying the lessons learned from this experiment, as they want to ensure it is “totally safe to do so” before sending a man into space. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

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