NASA Honors the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

 Posted by DrJeff on July 14th, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog


Photocaption: Vehicle Asembly Building (VAB) during the final mission of the Space Shuttle program (STS-135).  Photo by Eric S. Ackerman. CLICK FOR ZOOM


This past year has been a humbling experience for me, the staff of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the thousands of students and teachers in the 27 communities participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). Enabled by a Space Act Agreement between NASA and NanoRacks, LLC, we’ve all had the adventure of a lifetime. We’ve had the distinct honor of being part of history, and part of the 30 year legacy of the United States Space Shuttle program. The Space Shuttle, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—both national treasures—stand for what is a fundamental regarding the nature of our existence—our need to know, to question, to push the boundaries of what is familiar, and to broaden our understanding of ourselves. Anyone witnessing the final Shuttle launch on July 8 at Kennedy Space Center (I was lucky enough) could not help but be overwhelmed by what we have done as a nation of spacefarers, and realize that the dawn of a new era is at hand. To all those that are participating in SSEP, you need to know that you are helping to blaze a trail into that new era, and there has been no bigger supporter of your achievements than NASA. With the 27 experiments aboard Endeavour and Atlantis, selected from over 1,000 student team proposals, you, the next generation, are the link between a celebrated past and a future in space exploration that is only now being written. And this remarkable journey we’ve been on together? It has really been about celebrating the past, embracing the present, and inspiring the future. Isn’t that what learning and exploration are all about?


To all the men and women that have dedicated their lives to the exploration of space, and to knowing Earth’s place in a greater cosmos, thank you. Know that your legacy lives on in myriad education programs like SSEP that give voice to the dreams of the next generation so that they may take their rightful place at the helm of the human race. It is only fitting … for the journey is written in our genes, and all the countless thousands that built Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station were children once that dared to dream.


I am very very proud to pass along that NASA has again honored the communities participating in SSEP, this time with feature articles for the 11 communities aboard STS-135. I have provided the links below.


I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to NASA, and to three individuals that have provided unwavering support for SSEP: Mark Severance, International Space Station National Laboratory Education projects manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center; Leland Melvin, Associate Administrator for Education, NASA Headquarters; and James Stofan, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Integration, NASA Education, NASA Headquarters. I would also like to extend a very special thanks to Flint Wild, NASA Portal Associate Editor, NASA Education; Kathy Forsythe, Content Manager/NASA Education Web Team, NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center; and Jessica Nimon, Research Communications Specialist, ISS Program Science, NASA Johnson Space Center for overseeing the feature story development for the features posted on two main landing pages at the NASA Education Portal and also on the ISS Research News page. Finally a special thank you to Kristina Brink, Lead for K-12 Projects, NASA Kennedy Space Center; and Annette Dittmer, NASA Exchange Manager, NASA Kennedy Space Center, for making the KARS Park launch experiences for STS-134 and STS-135 something that the 600 combined attendees will never forget.


I am very much looking forward to the next chapter of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, and its promise to inspire and engage hundreds of thousands of student scientists, starting with SSEP Mission 1 to the International Space Station (ISS). We are on-boarding participating communities now for a Fall 2011 real experiment design competition engaging hundreds to thousands of grade 5-12 students across each community, selection of a flight experiment for each community by mid-December 2011, and the flight experiments integrated into the SSEP Mission 1 Payload and ferried to ISS aboard Soyuz 30 on April 1 ,2012.


See if your community might want to be part of the adventure! For more information, see the new SSEP Mission 1 Critical TImeline page, and don’t hesitate to Contact me. I will move heaven and Earth to try and find funding for any community that wants to come aboard. We found funding for 21 of the 27 communities that participated on the final flights of Endeavour and Atlantis, and engaged a combined 29,700 students.




Links to the SSEP on STS-135 Feature Articles at—

For Student main landing page – In the Spotlight area


For Educators main landing page – Educator Features and Articles area


STS-135 Educator Resources page – second item


International Space Station Research News page


Direct URL


The SSEP on-orbit research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.



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