Friday, June 29, was a break-through day for Valley View High School in Moreno Valley. On that day, a select number of Valley View High School students watched as their project, part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 12, was launched to the International Space Station.
The students enjoyed the experience during a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., where they were invited to also present their experiment at the Student Spaceflight national conference.
The students, who included two recent graduates, Titan Lam and Semajj Martinez, an eleventh grader, Douglas McCormack and 10th-grader, Roman Lara, were supported in their effort by science teacher Stacy Katzenstein and Professional Development Specialist Deepika Srivastava. Their project was titled, “Effect of Microgravity on Soybean Germination.”
SSEP was initially launched in June 2010, by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in strategic partnership with NanoRacks, LLC, a privately owned company that develops products and services for commercial utilization of space.
SSEP was designed as a model education initiative for the U.S. National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program. It typically gives hundreds of students across a participating community the ability to design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit (experiments conducted in a “weightless” environment), first aboard the final flights of the Space Shuttle in 2011, and then on the International Space Station (ISS) – America’s newest National Laboratory. SSEP is suitable for students in pre-college grades 5-12, 2-year community colleges, and 4-year colleges and universities.
Each community participating in SSEP is provided a very real research asset – a flight certified, straight-forward to use microgravity research mini-laboratory, and guaranteed launch services to transport the mini-laboratory to the International Space Station (ISS). According to program officials, it is a precious and limited research asset given that the mini-laboratory can only contain a single student team designed microgravity experiment.
An astronaut aboard ISS will conduct the experiment, and after a typical four- to six-week stay in orbit, the experiment will be returned safely to Earth for harvesting and analysis by the community’s student flight team.
To learn more about the SSEP program visit http://ssep.ncesse.org/. Readers can view the June 29 launch online at ssep.ncesse.org/2018/06/watch-live-flight-of-ssep-mission-12-mercury-launching-on-spacex-crs-15-friday-june-29-2018-542-am-et/.