To All SSEP Student Flight Teams on STS-135 – Stand By for Return and Analysis of Experiment Samples

Click for Zoom Source: REUTERS/NASA

What? You mean we’ve got to get ready to receive our experiment samples already? But we just got back from the truly spectacular launch in Florida, and we haven’t unpacked yet! (OK, maybe that’s just me:-) Switching to serious—

With NASA’s recent one day extension to its mission, Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to return to Kennedy Space Center at 5:56 am EDT, Thursday, July 21, which is now just a week away. The countdown clock on this SSEP website, the SSEP Network Hubsite, and the Community Blogs has now been updated to reflect the new landing time.

Yesterday, NCESSE posted the STS-135 Harvesting of Experiment Samples page, which details the harvesting timeline, and the return of samples to experiment teams. Each student flight experiment team should now be preparing to receive their experiment samples and conduct their analysis and post-flight procedures. We know that a number of teams are using analytical resources and equipment at local area research laboratories. We urge you to make sure the lab facilities are standing by to receive your samples AND your team.

(Pretty cool huh)

To get you in the spirit, here is a video of Atlantis doing an inspection back flip for the good folks aboard the International Space Station (ISS) before docking. Inside Atlantis are Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Rex Walheim — your Mission Specialist for the SSEP payload, Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus, and of course 11 experiments designed by proud young scientists from across America (that’s you).  Aboard ISS watching Atlantis flip against the backdrop of an Earth speeding by at nearly 18,000 mph, are the crew of ISS Expedition 28—Commander Andrey Borisenko (Russia), Soyuz TMA-02M Commander Sergel Volkov (Russia), and Flight Engineers Ron Garan (USA), Alexander Samokutyaev (Russia), Mike Fossum (USA), and Satoshi Furukawa (Japan).

video courtesy of TheBadAstronomer, Phil Plait


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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The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.