Student Experiments on International Space Station


Open to: School Districts Serving Grades 5-12, Informal Education Institutions, Colleges and Universities

Inquiry Deadline: May 31, 2021

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education announces Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 16 to the International Space Station. This opportunity gives students across a community the ability to design and propose microgravity experiments to fly in low-Earth orbit on the International Space Station (ISS), constrained by the engineering and technology constraints imposed by the flight certified mini-lab that must be used, and the nature of flight operations to and from Low Earth Orbit. One experiment in each community will be selected to fly to ISS on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in FL. Astronauts aboard ISS will operate the experiment 4-6 weeks before it is returned to Earth and the community’s student flight team for analysis. SSEP is not a simulation. We are truly inviting your community to be part of America’s Space Program.

A community can also engage hundreds of students in mission patch art and design competitions, with two patches selected to fly with the flight experiment. SSEP is therefore an authentic STEAM initiative.

An important consideration – the expectation is that a team of educators in a participating community will engage typically 300 grade 5-12 students (at least 100) over 9 weeks of experiment design and proposal writing spanning September 1 through November 3 2021. Students across the community are separated into teams of 3-5 students, each team designing a microgravity experiment in a science discipline of their choice and through a formal proposal making the case for why their experiment should be selected for flight to ISS. The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) provides a fully authentic research competition as a STEM Project Based Learning experience. Launch of the Mission 16 flight experiments is currently projected for Spring 2022. Mission 16 occurs across the 2021-22 academic year.

For complete program details, and how to explore this opportunity for your community, read the SSEP Home Page: