Kentucky students’ experiment heading for International Space Station

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A science experiment designed in part by two students from Fayette County Public Schools will blast off for the International Space Station on Oct. 1.

Kiera Fehr, a sophomore at Henry Clay High School, and Rosalie Huff, a sophomore at Frederick Douglass High School, worked on an experiment to see how termites behave in microgravity. It will be combined with another project in a cube-shaped laboratory called BUG-01, which will be on the CRS-14 resupply mission headed for the space station from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Launch of the Cygnus resupply capsule on a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, can be watched on NASA TV.

Fehr and Huff are part of Team V Atlas, one of two teams that won STEM challenges for microgravity experiments in the Higher Orbits 2019 Go For Launch! series. The other three members of Team V Atlas are from Illinois.

Their experiment, with about 50 southeastern drywood termites, will be packaged with another student team’s project studying the effect of microgravity on moth chrysalis formation.

Team V Atlas predicts the termites will experience stress in microgravity but will soon adjust and resume normal behavior.

“One of the constraints for the project was that everything going to space had to fit within a four-inch cube, so we had to figure out how many termites could fit in the cube with the termites’ food and experiment equipment,” Huff said in the announcement.

Higher Orbits, a nonprofit that uses spaceflight to promote science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) education, holds Go For Launch! and Go For Launch! Full STEAM Ahead events nationwide, in partnership with companies and other organizations that seek to spark the next generation of scientists and researchers.

Students working with astronauts, scientists and engineers through Go For Launch! have developed more than a dozen projects for research in microgravity. Nine of them have launched to the International Space Station.

For this project, Go For Launch! partnered with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the world’s largest aerospace technical society.

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