New Flight Opportunity in Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program has announced a new flight opportunity to place experiments on the International Space Station. Interested districts and schools should inquire by December 11, 2015.

Full release:

October 11, 2015

Announcing: Major (G5-16) STEM Opportunity for School Districts Starting February 2016 – Student Spaceflight Experiments Program – Mission 10 to the International Space Station

Deadline for Inquiry: All interested school districts and schools are asked to inquire no later than December 11, 2015

Contact: Dr. Jeff Goldstein, SSEP Program Director; cell 301-395-0770;  

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education announce Mission 10 to the International Space Station. This STEM education opportunity immerses grade 5-16 students across a community in an authentic, high visibility research experience, where student teams design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station. The program nurtures ownership in learning, critical thinking, problem solving, navigation of an interdisciplinary landscape, and communication skills – all reflective of the Next Generation Science Standards, the skills needed by professional scientists and engineers, and the skills desired by 21st century employers.

Each participating community will be provided a real microgravity research mini-laboratory capable of supporting a single experiment, and all launch services to fly the experiment to the International Space Station in Fall 2016, and return is safely to Earth for student harvesting and analysis. A 9-week experiment design competition in each community, held February through April 2016, and locally engaging typically 300 students (if a pre-college focus), allows student teams to design and formally propose real experiments vying for their community’s reserved mini-lab on Space Station. A formal 2-step proposal review process, mirroring professional review, will determine the community’s flight experiment. Content resources for teachers and students support foundational instruction on science in microgravity and experimental design. Additional programming leverages the experiment design competition to engage the community, embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM education. This includes a local art and design competition for a Mission Patch to accompany the flight experiment to Station. SSEP is therefore more suitably characterized as a community-wide STEAM experience.

TIME CRITICAL: all interested communities are asked to inquire by December 11, 2015; this allows schools and districts the time they need to assess interest with their staff and, if appropriate, move forward with an Implementation Plan. Communities must be aboard by February 15, 2016, for a 9-week experiment design and proposal writing phase from February 22 to April 22, 2016. The flight experiment will be selected by May 26, 2016. Launch of the Mission 10 to ISS “Casper” experiments payload is expected in Fall 2016.

NEXT STEP: carefully read the SSEP Home page, which provides an Executive Summary of the Program and the Mission 10 to ISS Flight Opportunity:

Of interest: SSEP was showcased in Scientific American, February 17, 2015



Since program inception in June 2010, there have been 11 SSEP flight opportunities: SSEP on STS-134 and STS-135, which were the final flights of Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis; and SSEP Missions 1 through 9 to ISS. A total of 124 communities have participated in the program across the U.S. and Canada, and 28 communities have participated in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 flight opportunities, reflecting the sustainable nature of the program. Through the first 10 missions, a total of 49,260 grade 5-16 students (including 2- and 4-year college communities) were fully immersed in microgravity experiment design, and 11,151 flight experiment proposals were submitted by student teams.


The SSEP Mission 6 to ISS “Yankee Clipper II” payload of 17 experiments was launched on the SpaceX-5 rocket, January 10, 2015, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, adjoining NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Yankee Clipper II was operated on orbit by Space Station Commander Barry Wilmore. Yankee Clipper returned to Earth on February 10, 2015 aboard SpaceX-5, splashing down in the Pacific off the California coast. Many mission 6 student flight teams report findings at the 2015 SSEP National Conference at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, July 2-3, 2015.    

We are now in pre-flight operations for the launch of the Mission 7 to ISS Odyssey II payload of 25 SSEP experiments, which is a re-flight of the original Odyssey payload that was lost with the destruction of the SpaceX-7 rocket 2.5 minutes after launch on June 28, 2015. Mission 7 Odyssey II launches on SpaceX-8 from the Cape, expected in the January 2016 time frame. We are also in pre-flight operations for the Mission 8 Kitty Hawk payload of 15 experiments now undergoing NASA flight safety review at Johnson Space Center in Houston, and launching on SpaceX-9 from the Cape. The 22 Mission 9 communities are in the midst of engaging 13,500 students in experiment design and proposal writing, with flight experiments to be selected by December 17, 2015, and a projected launch of the Mission 9 Endeavor payload in Spring 2016.   

THIS IS THE REAL SPACE PROGRAM, and we are inviting you to come aboard.


National Center for Earth and Space Science Education

Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education

NanoRacks, LLC    


Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)

Subaru of America, Inc.     


Magellan Aerospace

This on-orbit, real research opportunity for students 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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