After a number of launch slips, we are GO FOR LAUNCH of Orb-2 at 12:52 pm ET today.
The SSEP Mission 5 Charlie Brown payload of 15 experiments will be aboard the Orbital Sciences 2 (Orb-2) vehicle launching from Pad 0-A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS). The vehicle is comprised of the Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. Cygnus will berth at the International Space Station (ISS) later this week. MARS is a commercial spaceport adjacent to the Wallops Flight Facility, on Wallops Island, VA, operated by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education has been in continuous communication with the student flight teams via the SSEP Community Program Directors and Teacher Facilitators in the 15 communities participating in Mission 5 to ISS. Student teams are preparing for on-orbit operation of their experiments by crew aboard ISS, and concurrent operation of identical experiments on the ground – the ground truth experiments. On return to Earth, after a 14-week stay on ISS, student teams will harvest and analyze both flight and ground truth experiments which will allow them to assess the role of gravity in the physical, chemical or biological system under study.
It is worth noting that SSEP payloads were on all three launches of the Cygnus spacecraft to date, including the Orb-D1 demonstation flight, and Orb-1 – the first operational flight of Cygnus. The Mission 6 to ISS Yankee Clipper payload of 18 experiments will be flying on Orb-3, currently scheduled for launch in October 2014.
Live coverage of the launch on NASA TV will begin at 12:00 noon ET today. We have provided a NASA TV portal below so that you can watch the launch right here at the SSEP National Blog.
We have 86 SSEP students, teachers, administrators, and family members attending the launch of Orb-2, representing 6 SSEP Mission 5 communities: Teachers in Space (distributed U.S. National community); Howard County, MD; Kansas City, MO; New York City (NEXT+m), NY); Rockland County, NY; and Guilford County, NC. There will be 17 SSEP student researchers in attendance representing 5 flight experiment teams.
NASA Headquarters had notified the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden would be at the launch and he specifically asked to address the SSEP Student Researchers on launch day. But that was for a launch that was supposed to be last Friday prior to two additional launch slips. We are awaiting word if Administrator Bolden is still able to attend the launch, and address the student researchers.
SSEP attendees will be viewing the launch from Arbuckle Neck Road, which is 1.7 miles from Launch Pad 0-A. By comparison, the Wallops Flight Facility Visitor’s Center, which is the primary public viewing site for launches, is located 7.5 miles from the Pad (see Map).
NASA invited SSEP attendees to sit in on the formal NASA and Orbital Sciences Pre-Launch and Payload briefings to the media that have taken place at the Visitor Center over the last two days. Today, prior to launch, NASA has also requested that the Center provide a SSEP briefing to the media, with all 5 SSEP student research teams in attendance presenting an overview of their flight experiments, and poster presentations to the public at the Visitor Center.
In support of the Media Briefing, starting 8:30 am ET today, the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education created the following media documents:
Downloadable Documents (PDFs)
SSEP National Program Overview for Congressional Briefings on Capitol Hill
Mission 5 to ISS Profile: student impact
Mission 5 Flight Experiments Summary Table
Mission 5 Flight Experiments: Research Teams and Experiment Summaries
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 NanoRacks LLC, 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.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc. are National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.