ssep-banner-largeAfter a summer away, welcome back!

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, and NanoRacks would like to welcome back from summer break all SSEP participating student researchers, teachers, communities leaders, National Partners, and Local Partners. We would also like to welcome the 15 communities that just came aboard for Mission 5 to ISS, the 7th SSEP flight opportunity since program inception in June 2010, just a little over 3 years ago.

There has been a lot of SSEP activity over the last two months, but we’ve not put up a post since July 1 due to the summer break. With this post, we are restarting the SSEP National Blog for the 2013-2014 academic year. This space is where program participants, interested stakeholders, and the general public can follow the program, and be part of this grand adventure. If you know of folks that would like to follow along, send them to the main page where they can subscribe for email notification of new blog posts.

For this first blog post, we thought we’d provide a short summary of upcoming milestones and activities. For each, we’ll put up a new post in the coming weeks to go into more detail.

1. T minus 3 Days 15 Hours to Launch of SSEP Falcon I Payload from MARS

We are now at T minus 3 days, 15 Hours until the launch of the SSEP Falcon I payload of 7 experiments on the historic Orbital Sciences D-1 launch of the Cygnus spacecraft out of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), VA. The Antares rocket carrying Cygnus is scheduled to blast off at 11:17 EDT, September 17. Over 70 SSEP attendees, reflecting delegations from communities with flight experiments on Falcon I will be in attendance. We would like to thank the wonderful Team at MARS for making this possible.

The only commercial vehicle to dock with ISS to date has been the SpaceX Dragon. Three Dragon flights have berthed with ISS to date, and SSEP payloads were on the first and second. In fact SSEP was the only research payload on the first flight of Dragon to berth with ISS. WE MADE HISTORY in this remarkable moment at the dawn of commercial human spaceflight.

Orbital Sciences is the second commercial company to put into operation a ferry vehicle to ISS – the Cygnus spacecraft – and the Orbital Sciences Demonstration 1 flight next week (Orb D-1) will be the first time Cygnus berths with ISS. We are again making history, and the SSEP Falcon I payload, together with a few other experiments NanoRacks is flying, are the only research payloads on Orb D-1.

Stay tuned for launch information, and in fact, you can watch the launch live right here on NASA TV. We will also be tweeting from the launch site using the hashtag #SSEP1 which is captured in the right column of this website. So this blog will be a one stop shop for video and SSEP social media.


2. Third SSEP National Conference Held at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, July 2-3, 2013

The 3rd SSEP NationaL Conference was held in the nation’s Capital on July 2-3. Nearly 200 SSEP attendees representing 11 community delegations participated in the conference, and there were 15 presentations by student research teams. You can read about the conference at the 2013 SSEP National Conference page.


3. Mission 3 and 4 to ISS

The SSEP Mission 3 Falcon II payload of 12 experiments, and the Mission 4 Orion payload of 11 experiments are slated to be aboard Orbital Sciences 1 (Orb-1) currently projected to blast off from MARS in late fall / early winter 2013. This will be the first officially operational flight of the Cygnus vehicle.


4. Mission 5 to ISS – WELCOME ABOARD!

Mission 5 (M5) operations began on schedule, September 9, 2013, with 15 communities. 8 communities are new to SSEP and 7 are returning for their second, third, fourth, and even fifth flight opportunity. The SSEP Community Network is growing and demonstrates the program is sustainable at the local level.

We would especially like to welcome the first communities in the great States of Missouri and Mississippi.

The flight of the Mission 5 Charlie Brown payload of experiments is projected to launch in Spring 2014.  Congratulations to the following 15 Mission 5 communities, each of which now have their own, very real Space Program.

1. Teachers in Space, U.S. Nationally Distributed Community, Space Frontier Foundation
(M5 is their SECOND SSEP flight opportunity)

2. Flagstaff, Arizona

3. Santa Rosa, California

4. Washington, DC

5. Hillsborough County, Florida

6. Jefferson County, Kentucky
(M5 is their SECOND SSEP flight opportunity)

7. Howard County, Maryland
(M5 is their SECOND SSEP flight opportunity)
Noteable: their Mission 3 to ISS experiment is launching from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on September 17, 2013

8. Fitchburg, Massachusetts
(M5 is their FIFTH SSEP flight opportunity)

9. North Attleborough, Massachusetts

10. Kansas City, Missouri

11. Brookhaven, Mississippi

12. Pennsauken, New Jersey
(M5 is their THIRD SSEP flight opportunity)
Noteable: their Mission 3 to ISS experiment is launching from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on September 17, 2013

13. New York City, New York
(M5 is their SECOND SSEP flight opportunity)

14. Rockland County, New York

15. Guilford County, North Carolina
(M5 is their FOURTH SSEP flight opportunity)



Mission 6 to ISS, the 8th SSEP flight opportunity, will begin program operations in mid-February 2014, with a projected flight to ISS in Fall 2014.  The National Announcement of Opportunity will be out at the end of September 2013. All communities interested in M6 will need to submit an Implementation Plan by October 31, 2013.


Stay tuned for the upcoming flight of the Antares.



The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with NanoRacks LLC, working 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 education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)Carnegie Institution of Washington, NASA Nebraska Space Grant Consortium, and Subaru of America, Inc., are National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

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