A 13-year-old space enthusiast from Co Kildare is feeling out of this world after seeing his artwork sent to the International Space Station (ISS).

Brendan Brown from Kilcullen designed one of 24 mission patches launched to the ISS in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre on 21 December last year.

Brendan's design was chosen following a competition run by the University of Liverpool.

Brendan's mission patch design

Scientists there are using microgravity to understand what happens to human muscles as we age, and why.

They placed laboratory-grown muscle cells in 24 separate containers which have been sent to ISS.

Each container has its own mission patch - similar to the emblems worn by astronauts and people affiliated with a mission.

Brendan said: "I have always had an interest in science and engineering so I'm very happy to be one of the 24 designs that were chosen to go to the International Space Station.

"It’s cool to be a part of such a big experiment. My design includes a picture of the Liver bird from the Liver building in Liverpool standing on top of the earth, with the International Space Station in the background."

Brendan has 'always had an interest in science and engineering'

When astronauts spend time in space their muscles get weaker, just as they do in older age.

By studying what happens to muscle tissue in microgravity, the University of Liverpool team can compare the findings to what happens on Earth.

They hope this will help solve the puzzle of why muscles get weaker as we age and find possible ways to prevent it.

Earlier this month, video footage showed European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer unpacking and installing the experiment, including the 24 cell containers, on the International Space Station.

Brendan's father, Brian, said: "It's a great achievement for him. How many people in the world - let alone Ireland - have had something go up on the International Space Station!"

Brian Brown says it's a great achievement for his son

As for Brendan, he hopes this is just the first of many missions.

One day he hopes to be an engineer working on rockets for NASA.