The Space X Dragon which is now headed to rendezvous with the International Space Station is carrying two experiments made by four Houston Independent School District students as well as two student-designed mission patches. The Dragon launched Tuesday morning at 2:44 a.m. CST from Cape Canaveral, FL.
The National Center for Earth and Space Science (NCESSE) and NanoRacks, LLC, have developed the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), aimed at helping today’s students become the scientists and engineers of tomorrow. The program gives the students the opportunity to be involved in a national space project with a focus on STEM education via the Nano-Racks payload.
Johnston Middle and Parker Elementary were two of the schools selected from 12 communities in the United States. Hundreds of students in grades 5- 8 were given the opportunity to design and submit experiments to be performed in microgravity aboard the space station. From 267 formal experiment proposals received, two were chosen to go to space.
Emily Soice from Johnston Middle School and Michael Prince, Maxx Denning and Aaron Stuart from Parker Elementary school had the winning proposals. Both schools also held an art contest for the mission patch design. Fifth grade Parker Elementary student Christian Astorga and eighth grade Johnston Middle School student Sebastian Beil designed the winning mission patches.
The students conferred with STEM experts from Rice University, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), NASA, Pfizer, Texas A and M University, the University of Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas Southern University. The students also had the opportunity to visit research facilities to prepare for their experiments for flight.
The Student Space Flight Experiments Program (http://ssep.ncesse.org) is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE; http://ncesse.org) in partnership with Nanoracks, LLC and is enabled through NanoRacks working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.
During the Dragon’s 21-day mission it will dock with the space station where it will deliver about a half ton of supplies along with cargo from NanoRacks containing 15 student-designed SSEP experiments from around the United States. Dragon will be the first privately-owned spaceship to dock at the space station.