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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 10 to the International Space Station (ISS) – the twelfth SSEP flight opportunity since program inception in 2010. Mission 10 to ISS officially begins on February 22, 2016, and we are proud to welcome aboard the 12 communities listed below.

Each participating community submitted a formal Implementation Plan that demonstrated how SSEP would address their community’s strategic needs in STEM education, and detailed a 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 12 Mission 10 communities combined will engage 4,800 grade 5-16 students in experiment design, and expect 950 flight experiment proposals to be received from student teams. A 2-step formal proposal review process, culminating with the SSEP National Step 2 Review Board meeting in May 2016 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, will select one flight experiment for each community.

Of special note–

  • one of the Mission 10 communities is an undrgraduate effort led by the University System of Maryland, and involving both University of Maryland College Park, and University of Maryland Baltimore County campuses. The SSEP Teacher Facilitators are university faculty that served as reviewers on the Mission 9 to ISS Step 2 Review Board at the Smithsonian last December, and decided to establish a Mission 10 SSEP community at the University with a focus on undergraduate science majors
  • the Clark County School District becomes the first community in Nevada to participate in SSEP
  • the Community Program Directors in both Middletown, DE, and Summit, NJ, oversaw SSEP programs in their communities for prior Missions. They have since relocated to new districts and with Mission 10 have now established the program in these new districts
  • with Mission 10, the aSTEAM Village community in Kansas City, MO/KS – reflecting a consortium of public, private and charter schools – is starting their fifth SSEP Mission

The 12 flight experiments for Mission 10 to ISS will be selected by May 26, 2016, with a projected launch as the SSEP Casper payload of experiments (named for the Apollo 16 Command Module) in late Fall / early Winter 2016-17.


Mission 10 Communities – Welcome Aboard!

1. Camden, AR
Camden Fairview School District

2. Elk Grove, CA
Elk Grove Unified School District

3. iLEAD Consortium, CA
iLEAD Schools

4. Lennox, CA
Lennox School District

5. Middletown, DE
Everett Meredith Middle School
Appoquinimink School District

6. Lansing, KS
Lansing Middle School
Lansing Unified School District

7. University System of Maryland (USM), MD
University of Maryland College Park
University of Maryland Baltimore County

8. Kansas City, MO/KS
aSTEAM Village Consortium

9. Clark County, NV
Clark County School District

10. Summit, NJ
Kent Place School

11. Houston, TX
Harmony Public Schools
Harmony Science Academy

12. San Antonio, TX
Southside Independent School District


SSEP Flight Operations Update–

We now have a record four Missions in various stages of their flight lifecycle, SSEP Mission 7, 8, 9, and 10 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 as Odyssey II with tentative blastoff from the Cape in early Spring 2016. 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. (Visit the Mission 7 In the News page.)

The SSEP Mission 8 Kitty Hawk payload of 15 experiments is tentatively set to launch on SpaceX-9 from the Cape in early Summer 2016. (Visit the Mission 8 In the News page.)

The SSEP Mission 9 Endeavor payload of 21 experiments were selected in December 2015, and are now manifested for flight on SpaceX-10 with an estimated launch from the Cape in mid- to late summer 2016. (Visit the Mission 9 In the News page.)

To all the teachers, thousands of students, and stakeholder organizations across the 12 Mission 10 communities – welcome aboard America’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.


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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