Raspberry Pi blasts off! Budget computer launched into space

Two Raspberry Pi computers are going to be sent into space as part of a competition to get children inspired by coding and space exploration.

The Astro Pi project will take place from the middle of January and will see the devices sent to the International Space Station (ISS), containing code written by primary and secondary school children.

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According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation blogbar, the winning code will be run by the ISS crew and the results sent back to Earth.

"[Astronaut] Tim Peake plans to deploy the Astro Pi computers in a number of different locations on board the ISS," the Foundation wrote.

"He will then load up the winning code whilst in orbit, set them running, collect the data generated and then download this to Earth where it will be distributed to the winning teams."

Since launching in 2012, the Raspberry Pi has become a runaway success, selling nearly four million units. Business secretary Vince Cable believes the budget computer could help train the next generation of big data analysts.

"So much technology relies on big data but not enough people are being trained in this field. This challenge helps the next generation to have fun whilst learning the skills that industry needs," he said.

"Creating tomorrow's engineers is part of our industrial strategy that gives a long-term commitment to world-class skills."

Competition entrants have to submit their ideas for apps that could aid space research, with the best ideas ultimately being sent to the ISS.

Raspberry Pi Foundation founder Eben Upton added that engaging young people with coding has always been one of the organisation main aims, as it has the potential to benefit “the whole Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics spectrum."

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With space travel a particularly hot topic currently, Upton also teased that the Raspberry Pi could go even further afield than the ISS, suggesting that a trip to Mars could even be on the horizon.