Spaceflight program seeks applicants


The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, in partnership with NanoRacks, invites communities across the U.S. to participate in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Fourth Flight Opportunity – SSEP Mission 2 to the International Space Station (ISS).

Each participating community will be provided all launch services to fly a real microgravity research mini-laboratory on ISS from September 28 to November 12, 2012, and a kit for assembly of their mini-lab. An eight-week experiment design competition in the community, held spring 2012, will allow grade 5-12 student teams to design real microgravity experiments vying for their community’s reserved mini-lab slot on ISS.

SSEP is a true STEM education program. It addresses a wide range of biological and physical science disciplines, including: seed germination; crystal growth; physiology of microorganisms and life cycles (e.g., bacteria); cell biology and growth; food studies; and studies of micro-aquatic life. Students design experiments to the technology and engineering constraints imposed by a real research mini-lab and flight operations to and from earth orbit.

Through the first two SSEP announcements of opportunity on the final flights of Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis (STS-134 and STS-135), 27 communities joined the program, providing a combined 30,700 grade 5-14 students in 101 schools the opportunity to design and propose real spaceflight experiments; 1,027 student team proposals were received; and 27 experiments were selected and flown on the shuttles – one for each participating community.

For SSEP Mission 1 to ISS, the third flight opportunity, 12 communities are providing 41,200 students, across 92 schools, the opportunity to design and propose experiments. Mission 1 is ongoing.

The deadline to apply is February 27, 2012. More information is available here or contact Center Director and SSEP Program Creator Dr. Jeff Goldstein at (301) 395-0770 or