Mission 3 is Community’s First SSEP Flight Opportunity: Yellow
Mission 3 is Community’s at Least Second SSEP Flight Opportunity: Green
View Mission 3 to ISS Communities in a larger map

Note: One Mission 3 Community, the Teachers in Space nationally distributed community program, is not shown on the map.

SSEP Mission 3 to ISS

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Eduction (NCESSE) and NanoRacks are excited to announce that a record 17 communities across the U.S. and Canada are taking part in Mission 3 to the International Space Station (ISS). We are also excited to announce that Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada, is the first international Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) community, and is administered by the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, the international arm of NCESSE, which is undertaken in partnership with the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation.


Mission 3 to ISS program operations started on September 17, 2012. Flight experiments are to be selected for all 17 communities by December 7, 2012. Flight operations begin in mid-December 2012, with a projected flight to ISS in Spring 2013, likely on either the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon vehicle launching out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, or the Orbital Sciences Antares/Cygnus vehicle launching out of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Virginia. For more information on Mission 3, visit the SSEP Mission 3 to ISS profile page, and the SSEP Mission 3 to ISS: Critical Timeline page.


As part of SSEP Mission 3 to ISS – the fifth SSEP flight opportunity to date – 17 communities are providing the opportunity for 12,800 grade 5-12 students to design and propose real microgravity experiments for flight aboard ISS.  Six of the Mission 3 communities participated in at least one of the four earlier SSEP flight opportunities – Space Shuttle missions STS-134 and STS-135, and Mission 1 and 2 to ISS.

Mission 3 to ISS also includes the first International Community, Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada, and the first Distributed Community with the Space Frontier Foundation‘s Teachers in Space program engaging lead science teachers across the nation as a single community.

Each community conducts a local Flight Experiment Design Competition with student teams designing microgravity experiments across multiple disciplines. Each team submits a formal research proposal, vying for an experiment slot reserved just for their community in a real research mini-laboratory scheduled to fly on the International Space Station. The Mission 3 to ISS community leadership project that across the network of 17 communities a minimum of 6,720 students will be fully engaged in experiment design, and a minimum of 1,254 flight experiment proposals from student teams will be received. In every benchmark, Mission 3 to ISS is the most expansive SSEP flight opportunity undertaken to date.

A total of 82,700 grade preK-12 students are being given the opportunity to participate in SSEP Mission 3 to ISS community-wide programming, which includes the design of Mission Patches to fly aboard ISS. Through community engagement activities, together with microgravity experiment design, a total of 163 schools in 13 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada are taking part in Mission 3 to ISS.

STAY TUNED: The national and international announcement for Mission 4 to ISS is to be released in early November, 2012. Mission 4 to ISS will include an experiment design phase starting end of February 2013, flight experiment selection by end of May 2013, and a flight to ISS in Fall 2013. 

Partnership – A Hallmark of SSEP

For 9 of the 17 communities, Mission 3 is made possible in part by a grant from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. We are proud to welcome CASIS as a National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

Mission 3 to ISS is made possible through the involvement of 108 Local Partner institutions, including school districts, corporate foundations, universities, community foundations, and companies, and which are providing both underwriting and material and human resources.

Some highlights:

Mission 3 to ISS was made possible in part for 9 communities through support from 9 NASA Space Grant Lead Institutions, including: Witchita State University, Kansas; Johns Hopkins University, Maryland; MIT, Massachusetts; University of Nebraska – Omaha, Nebraska; Cornell University, New York; North Carolina State University, North Carolina; Oregon State University, Oregon; Virginia Space Grant Consortium Headquarters, Virginia; and American University, District of Columbia.

The DOW Chemical Company is supporting two communities: Traverse City, Michigan, and Pennsauken, New Jersey.

The level of partnership is remarkable, and speaks to what a team of partners at the local, state, and national levels can do together in STEM education.

Community Profiles, Local Strategic Need in STEM Education, and Relevance of SSEP

Each community has its own unique approach to their SSEP community experience. In each community, the leadership defines how SSEP is to address their strategic goals in STEM education, and the number of schools, number of students, and grade levels participating.

The Mission 3 to ISS Community Profiles and Local Partners page is now live at the SSEP Network Hubsite. For each community it provides their strategic needs in STEM education and how SSEP helps address those needs, the leadership – the Community Program Directors and Co-Directors, and their Local Partners. To provide a powerful sense of the level of engagement for Mission 3 to ISS, we have provided below just the list of partners for the entire Mission 3 community network. Take a look below, before you jump to the new Mission 3 to ISS Community Profiles and Local Partners page.

Visit the SSEP In the News page and the In Our Own Words page to gain an understanding of program impact over the first four SSEP flight opportunities.

Partners List

In honor of the over 100 partner institutions that enable SSEP Mission 3 at the community level, we provide the list below. A heartfelt thank you and congratulations to all the institutions and individuals that are introducing the frontiers of human exploration—and real science—to grade 5-12 students across America and Canada.

1. Teachers in Space (TiS) Program, Space Frontier Foundation

Space Frontier Foundation: Teachers in Space Program

2. Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada

Interlake School Division

Government of Manitoba
Manitoba Aerospace Association
Manitoba Aerospace Human Resources Council
Aerotech Herman Nelson International
Bristol Aerospace (a division of Magellan Aerospace)
Acsion Industries
Acetek Composites
Manitoba Hydro
Allied Wings, Canada Wings
Mr. Alfonz Koncan
Canadian Space Agency
Oak Hammock Marsh
Fort Whyte Center
Central and Arctic Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
Kinesiology and Applied Health, The University of Winnipeg
Pembina Trails School Division
Seven Oaks School Division
Mr. Orville Procter
Good Turf Garden Centre
Ricard Farms, Ltd.
Cancer Care Manitoba

3. San Marino, California

Lead: San Marino High School
San Marino Unified School District

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education

4. Washington, DC

Lead: Capitol Hill Cluster School
District of Columbia Public Schools

District of Columbia Space Grant Consortium

5. Hilo/Waiakea, Hawai’i

Lead: Waiakea Intermediate School
Hawai’i Public Schools, Hilo/Waiakea Complex

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
Big Island Toyota
County of Hawai’i, Department of Research and Development
Hawai’i Island Economic Development Board, Inc.
Thirty Meter Telescope
Ben Franklin Crafts / Hilo Ace Hardware

6. Valley Center, Kansas

Lead: Valley Center High School
Valley Center Public Schools

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
Kansas Space Grant Consortium
Airbus North America
Ark Valley News
Capps Manufacturing
Coonrod & Associates
Exacta Aerospace
iSi Environmental
Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center
Wichita Eagle

Additional Contributors: Amy Sears & Russell Lance, Bill & Marlene Wentz, Bradley Tidemann, Brian Jackson, Brian Supernaw, D & D Plumbing, Emerson & Eileen Bolte, Glen & Janel Hawkins, Grant & Anita Tidemann, Greg & Kendra Jantz, Hugh Gill, Lois Pierson, Mick & Kay Thrasher, Parker Maldonado, Representative Steve Huebert, Society of Women Engineers, Timothy & Rhonda Price, Valley Center Booster Club, Valley Center Education Foundation, Valley Center Lions Club, Valley Center Pizza Hut

7. Howard County, Maryland

Howard County Public School System

Maryland Space Grant Consortium
MdBio Foundation
J. Craig Venter Institute

8. Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School (Monty Tech)

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium
OPK Biotech
DRS Power Technology
North Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board

9. Traverse City, Michigan

Lead: Traverse City West Senior High School
Traverse City Area Public Schools

The Dow Chemical Company
Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
DTE Energy Foundation
Salamander Technologies
B and E Enterprises

10. Pleasanton and Callaway, Nebraska

Pleasanton Public School
Callaway Public School

Nebraska Space Grant Consortium
The Sherwood Foundation
University of Nebraska Kearney Biology Department
Nebraska EPSCoR Science Outreach: Molecular Biology for Secondary Classrooms
Creighton University Department of Biology
Buffalo County Community Partners
Callaway District Hospital
Kearney Eye Institute

11. Alpine, New Jersey

The Alpine Public School District

Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
The Buehler Challenger & Science Center

12. Pennsauken, New Jersey

Pennsauken Township Public Schools

The Dow Chemical Company
Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
Universal Technical Resource Services
Toth Technologies
J&J Snack Foods

13. New York City, New York

Lead: New Explorations in Science Technology and Math (NEST+m)
New York City Department of Education

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
New York Space Grant Consortium

14. Guilford County, North Carolina

Guilford County Schools

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
North Carolina Space Grant Consortium
Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering

15. Salem, Oregon

Lead: Salem-Keizer School District
West Salem High School
Chapman Hill Elementary School

Oregon Space Grant Consortium
Society for Science & the Public

16. Willis, Texas

Willis Independent School District

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
Protect Controls, Inc.
Summit Flow Controls, Inc.

17. Wise County, Virginia

Wise County Public Schools

Wise County STEM Education Initiative
Bella Vista Foundation
Napoleon Hill Foundation
Virginia Space Grant Consortium 
Wise County-City of Norton Committee of 100, Ltd.
Powell Valley National Bank
Commonwealth Systems, Inc.
Southwestern Virginia Technology Council
Wise County Clerk of Court Jack Kennedy
Dominion Resources
Castle Track & Roller, Inc.
Don Pippin
Roy Jessee
Ronnie and Marcia Shortt


We invite you to spread the word to students, teachers, family members, and organizational stakeholders. To follow SSEP, folks can subscribe to this blog for email notifications of new posts. Anyone can subscribe at the bottom of the right column on the SSEP home page http://ssep.ncesse.org 

SSEP is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with NanoRacks LLC. This on-orbit research opportunity 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.

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.


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