SSEP Program Costs

NOTE: This is a sub-page of the More on SSEP main page.

You may want to read the
More on SSEP main page first – it describes how we can help find underwriting for your community. Staff at the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education found full or partial funding for 233 of 404 SSEP community programs undertaken as part of the first 20 SSEP flight opportunities: the final two Space Shuttle flights (STS-134 and STS-135) and SSEP Missions 1 through 18 to ISS. The More on SSEP main page also provides an excellent and comprehensive program orientation.

The SSEP Program Costs detailed below are for the following SSEP flight opportunity: SSEP Missions 19

We are making SSEP available as a Baseline Program that provides for breadth of programming at the lowest possible cost. The Baseline Program provides: the Flight Experiment Design Competition for typically 300+ students across a participating pre-college community (at least 100 students), or at least 30 students for an undergraduate community; all Teacher and Student Resources; the flight of one Mini-Laboratory reserved for your community and containing your community’s experiment selected for flight; and the majority of the Community Program elements. The Baseline Program can then be augmented with Supplemental Program Options allowing the community to broaden SSEP as they see fit for an additional cost.

Baseline SSEP Program Cost: $30,000

1. Program Elements

BBaseline Program
Supplemental Program Option

a. Mini-Laboratory Slot (see Designing the Flight Experiment page)

  • B — one reserved Launch Slot in the SSEP Mission 18 Experiments Payload for the community’s flight experiment to be conducted in a Fluids Mixing Enclosure (FME) Mini-lab (see, e.g., SSEP Mission 18 to ISS: Mini-Lab Operation page)
  • B — five Fluids Mixing Enclosure (FME) Kits, each providing for assembly and loading of a Type 1, Type 2, or Type 3 FME
    (see, e.g., SSEP Mission 18 to ISS: Mini-Lab Operation page)
  • — flight experiment Flight Safety Review
  • — all flight services for the flight experiment: launch, operation in Low Earth Orbit aboard ISS, and Return to Earth
  • S — supplemental package(s) of additional FME Kits, provided as 5 Kits per package

b. Community-wide Flight Experiment Design Competition (see Flight Experiment Design Competition page)

c. Teacher and Student Resources (see Teacher and Student Resources page)

    • B — ongoing Technical Assistance for student teams and teachers across the community
    • B — before program start, a 2-hour professional development videoconference for a community’s educator team, conducted by the SSEP Program Director
    • B — National SSEP Website (this site): rich in content and program resources
    • B — Document Library: containing curricular documents on the science conducted in microgravity, experiment design, and proposal submission
    • B an instructionally designed, step-by-step recipe walking teachers through the entire program
    • B — a robust FAQ

d. Community Program (see Community Program page)


2. Cost of Supplemental Program Options

Community-wide Programming by the National Team (see Community Program page): including, Classroom Visits to potentially thousands of students, Family/Public Programs, and Professional Devleopment for educators.

Cost: the cost is dependent on the scope of the program desired. The program can be customized to fit both audience size and budget. Contact SSEP.

SSEP National Conference in Washington, DC (see Community Program page): the community would be responsible for any conference registration fee per attendee, if such a fee is required.

Cost: a conference registration fee would only be required if NCESSE has to rent a venue for the conference. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, a SSEP National Partner on the Conference, hosted the first 9 annual conferences in 2011 through 2019 with no fee for space use. The conference is held over 2 days in late June or early July. Our expectation is that this wonderful partnership will continue, and if it does, there is no expectation for a registration fee. However, if the conference venue changes, a conference registration fee may be required, and would be based on total projected attendance obtained through a survey of SSEP participating communities, together with the cost of the venue rental. In the event of such a venue change NCESSE is committed to keeping the registration fee as low as possible, and will also explore securing a national underwriter to eliminate the registration fee entirely.

Note: due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there were no conferences held in 2020 through 2022. We expect conferences to resume in 2023.

Expanding the Number of Students Participating in the Design Competition: a school district may want more than 3,200 students to participate in their experiment design competition.

Cost: to assess the added cost, based on what you have in mind, Contact SSEP.

Purchase of Additional Fluids Mixing Enclosure (FME) Kits: the Baseline Program includes a package of 5 FME Kits. Each Kit allows assembly of a flight certified FME ready for loading of experiment samples, sealing, and shipping to Houston for incorporation into the SSEP Payload scheduled for flight to ISS. The FME Kits can be used to assess the operation of the FME mini-lab, design and refine experiments, prepare an FME for flight to ISS, and conduct formal ground truth experiments while the flight experiment is ongoing.

Cost per additional Package of 5 FME Kits: $590  depending on availability

Reserving Additional Mini-Laboratory Slots: this option allows a community to fly 2 (or more) mini-labs, hence 2 (or more) experiments. One approach might be to conduct one competition for a slot reserved for grades 5-8 and one for a slot reserved for grades 9-12, so that middle school students are not competing directly with high school students. 
The community would submit 3 finalist proposals for each additional mini-lab slot.

Cost per additional Mini-lab Slot: $20,000

3. Other Costs Borne by the Community

Experiment samples (fluids and solids): the cost of the experiment samples to be used in the student experiments.

Note: we have found with the earlier SSEP flight opportunities that if you tell a vendor about the SSEP program they will most often bend over backwards to help you, often providing the fluids and solids at reduced or no cost. Also let the vendor know that NCESSE will be happy to list them as a Local Partner for your community on the SSEP Community Profiles and Local Partners page for your flight opportunity.

Shipping Costs: cost of FedEx for: 1) the community to send the flight-ready FME to Houston for integration into the SSEP Payload; 2) the community to send their Mission Patch(es) to NCESSE, and the return of the Mission Patch(es) after the flight; and 3) NanoRacks to send the FME to the community, after return to Earth, if a community representative does not travel to Houston for pickup.

Step 1 Review Board: all costs associated with meetings of the community’s Step 1 Review Board, and associated activities.

Travel Costs: all travel costs for students/teachers traveling to the National SSEP Conference in Washington, DC, or to view the launch.

Return to More on SSEP main page?

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.