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The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), and its international arm, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, are honored to announce the start of program operations for Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 9 to the International Space Station (ISS) – the eleventh SSEP flight opportunity in 5 years. Mission 9 to ISS officially began on September 8, 2015, and we are proud to welcome aboard the 22 communities listed below, including 2 communities in Canada.

Each participating community was required to submit a formal Implementation Plan that demonstrated how SSEP would address their community’s strategic needs in STEM education, and provided a detailed real world plan for how a Local Team of educators would engage hundreds of students in real microgravity experiment design and proposal writing. Based on the Implementation Plans, the 22 Mission 9 communities combined will engage a stunning 13,500 grade 5-12 students in experiment design, and expect over 2,950 flight experiment proposals to be received from student teams. A 2-step formal proposal review process, culminating with the SSEP International Step 2 Review Board meeting at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, will select one flight experiment for each community. Mission 9 is therefore expected to be the largest impact SSEP mission yet undertaken.

The 22 flight experiments for Mission 9 to ISS will be selected by Dec 17, 2015, with a projected launch as the SSEP Endeavor payload of experiments (named for the Apollo 15 Command Module) in late Spring 2016.

We also invite the Mission 9 communities to follow flight operations for SSEP Missions 7 and 8 to ISS.

The Mission 7 Odyssey payload of 25 experiments was aboard SpaceX-7 when it launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station adjoining Kennedy Space Center on June 28, 2015. 120 SSEP delegate students, teachers, and family members were at Kennedy for the launch. Less than 3 minutes after launch the rocket exploded with the loss of all experiments (see video). In the wake of the failure each Mission 7 student flight team stepped to the plate and kept moving forward. The flight teams have been working to reconstitute their experiments for launch on SpaceX-8 with tentative blastoff from the Cape on NET (No Earlier Than) November 16, 2015. The lesson – nobody said exploration on the frontier is easy. Failure happens, and what we do in the face of failure defines who we are. We’re all very proud of the Mission 7 teams.

The SSEP Mission 8 Kitty Hawk payload of 15 experiments is currently set to launch on SpaceX-9 from the Cape on NET (No Earlier Than) January 3, 2016.

To the 22 Mission 9 communities, hundreds of teachers, and thousands of students – welcome aboard America’s and Canada’s Space Program. SSEP – real spaceflight all the time.


A word about the program’s real world learning objectives–

SSEP is designed to empower the student as scientist, and within the real-world context of science that is far more than exploration through inquiry. SSEP allows student teams to design an experiment like scientists, with real constraints imposed by the experimental apparatus, current knowledge, and the environment in which the experiment will be conducted; it allows students to propose for a real flight opportunity like professional scientists, bringing critical written communications skills to bear; it allows students to experience a real 2-step science proposal review process; it allows students to go through a real flight safety review like professional researchers; and it provides students their own science conference, where they are immersed in their community of researchers, communicating their thoughts, ideas, and experimental results to their peers. Science is more than a way of thinking and interacting with the natural world. Science is more than a book of knowledge. Science is also a complex social landscape filled with challenges, and the need for multi-faceted and successful communication with ones peers. SSEP is about introducing real science to our next generation of scientists and engineers.


Mission 9 Communities – Welcome Aboard

1. Langevin School
Calgary Board of Education

2. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
West Vancouver School District

3. Santa Monica, CA
Lincoln Middle School
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District

4. East Lyme, CT
East Lyme Middle School
East Lyme Public School District

5. Hillsborough County, FL
Hillsborough County Public Schools

6. Boise, ID
North Star Public Charter School

7. Potomac, MD
Bullis School

8. Fitchburg, MA
Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School

9. Traverse City, MI
Traverse City West Senior High School
Traverse City Area Public Schools

10. Jersey City, NJ
Jersey City Public Schools
Liberty Science Center

11. Springfield, NJ
Springfield Public Schools

12. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY
WNY STEM Hub of the Empire State
Buffalo Public Schools
Niagara Falls Public Schools
Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School
Global Concepts Charter School

13. Eugene, OR
Churchill High School
Arts and Technology Academy
Eugene School District 4J

14. Columbia, SC
W.J. Keenan High School Cluster
Richland One School District

15. North Charleston, SC
Palmetto Scholars Academy

16. Knox County, TN
Knox County Public School System

17. Bullard, TX
Bullard Independent School District

18. Burleson, TX
Burleson Independent School District

19. Galveston, TX
Ball High School
Galveston Independent School District

20. Houston, TX
Cesar E. Chavez High School
Houston Independent School District

21. McAllen, TX
McAllen Independent School District

22. Bellevue, WA
Open Window School


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 MuseumCenter for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc., are U.S. National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Magellan Aerospace is a Canadian National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

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