Private Sector STEM Education Effort Offers Real
On-Orbit Research Opportunity for Students

For Immediate Release
January 5, 2012

Program Description Video Clip

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC, announces the selection of 15 microgravity experiments to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Soyuz 30, scheduled for launch in March 2012. The experiments were selected as part of Mission 1 to ISS, the third flight opportunity provided by America’s Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). The first two flight opportunities were on the final flights of Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis.

In response to an announcement of opportunity in July 2011, 12 communities in 9 States and the District of Columbia are participating in Mission 1 to ISS. The communities provided a combined 41,200 grade
5-14 students the opportunity to design and propose real microgravity experiments. A total of 779 student team proposals were received, and a formal 2-step review process in Fall 2011 provided for the selection of 15 flight experiments, which are currently undergoing formal NASA Flight Safety Review.

Designed as a keystone Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education program launched as a U.S. National initiative in June 2010, SSEP engages entire communities. Each participating community is provided all launch services to fly a real microgravity research mini-laboratory in low Earth orbit, which is capable of supporting a single experiment. An experiment design and proposal process across each community, mirroring how professional research is undertaken, allows student teams to design microgravity experiments vying for their community’s reserved mini-lab slot. Additional programming leverages grade K-14 community-wide engagement in STEM education.

“SSEP is designed to empower the student as scientist, and within the real-world context of science. Student teams design a real experiment, propose for a real flight opportunity, experience a formal proposal review process, and go through a NASA flight safety review. They even have their own science conference at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where they are immersed in their own community of researchers”, said Dr. Jeff Goldstein, creator of SSEP and NCESSE Center Director. “SSEP is about introducing real science to our children, and if you give them a chance to be scientists, stand back and be amazed.”

Selected microgravity flight experiments include studies of antibacterial resistance (grade 10), reproduction of E. coli (grade 7), spider development (grade 5), Vitamin C and parathyroid hormone impact on bone density (grade 5, and grades 8 and 12), and water purification (college sophomores).

The first two SSEP flight opportunities on STS-134 and STS-135 saw submission of 997 student team proposals, and 27 SSEP experiments selected and flown, one for each of the 27 communities participating in SSEP on the Space Shuttle.

SSEP is the first pre-college STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture. SSEP is enabled through NanoRacks LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.

Description of Selected Experiments
SSEP Participating Communities
Program Impact Provided by Teachers, Students, and Community Leaders
SSEP In the News
VIDEO: 2011 SSEP Conference, Team from Zachary, LA, National Air and Space Museum
SSEP Home Page
SSEP 3-Page Overview PDF

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) creates and oversees national initiatives addressing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, with a focus on earth and space. Programs are designed to provide an authentic window on science as a human endeavor. Central objectives of the Center’s programs are to help ensure a scientifically literate public and a next generation of U.S. scientists and engineers – both of which are of national importance in an age of high technology. NCESSE is a Project of the Tides Center. http://ncesse.org

About NanoRacks, LLC
NanoRacks LLC was formed in 2009 to provide quality hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the International Space Station. NanoRacks now has two research platforms onboard the U.S. National Laboratory that can house plug and play payloads using the Cube-Sat form factor. Our current signed customer pipeline of over 50 payloads, including domestic and international educational institutions, research organizations and government organizations, has propelled NanoRacks into a leadership position in understanding the emerging commercial market for low-earth orbit utilization. Visit us at www.nanoracks.com and @nanoracks

Media Contact
Dr. Jeff Goldstein, Center Director, NCESSE
301-395-0770 jeffgoldstein@ncesse.org

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