SSEP Mission 1 to ISS: Critical Timeline

All information added or updated since this page first went up on October 6, 2011 (just after Mission 1 start) is in GREEN TEXT below.
Information still to be determined (if any) is in RED TEXT below.
Dates and times that are subject to change at NASA’s discretion are in PURPLE TEXT below.

Last update of this page: June 10, 2012, 7:42 am ET

Below is a timeline of milestones for SSEP Mission 1 to the International Space Station (ISS), and covers activities associated with: how communities join the program, the experiment design competition, selection of flight experiments, launch, operations aboard ISS, and mini-laboratory return to Earth.

Phase 1: The Timeline through student experiments selection—

July 31, 2011: SSEP National  Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for SSEP Mission 1 to the International Space Station
Announcement across U.S. via NCESSE: opportunity open to School Districts (pre-college grades 5-12), 2-Year Community Colleges; and 4-Year Colleges and Universities with emphasis on underserved communities.
Announcement to European Union nations, Japan, and Canada via NCESSE’s new international arm, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education.

July 31 – September 15, 2011 (1.5 months): Communities Come Aboard
Education stakeholders at the community level assess the opportunity, and if interested, rapidly assess funding prospects with local foundations, businesses, and philanthropic organizations, and secure pledges of funding.

WE CAN HELP IDENTIFY FUNDING: Regarding identifying and securing funding, NCESSE can greatly assist – NCESSE found funding for 21 of 27 communities participating in SSEP on STS-134 and STS-135. We are committed to doing the same for SSEP on ISS.

September 15, 2011: Formal Letter of Commitment of Funding Due
Deadline for your community to submit to NCESSE via email a formal Letter of Commitment of Funding (on letterhead of the funding organization), which states that funding is available and will be allocated to SSEP.

September 16, 2011: Go-No-Go Decision
Based on the received Letters of Commitment, NCESSE announces if the minimum of 12 booked experiment slots required to fly the SSEP Mission 1 Payload to ISS has been achieved.

October 3, 2011: SSEP begins in all participating communities


TO GET STARTED WITH SSEP IN YOUR COMMUNITY: read the To Teachers—How to Move Forward page.

October 10, 2011: NCESSE ships 5 Fluids Mixing Enclosure Mini-lab (MixStik) Kits  to Each Participating Community

October 15, 2011: Deadline for Signed Contract and First of Two Installments
Final date for your community and SSEP to have a signed contract in place; by this date, SSEP must have received the signed contract, and a check to Tides Center (NCESSE’s parent non-profit) for 50% of the total cost.

October 31, 2011: Deadline for Community’s Two Patch Plan to be Received by NCESSE (see Mission Patch page)

October 3 – November 28, 2011: 8 weeks of Experiment Design and Proposal Writing in Participating Communities
Community-wide engagement in SSEP; student teams frame experiments; student teams write and submit 5-page proposals to your community’s lead organization on SSEP. Note: all proposing teams should be required to send a Notice of Intent to propose (NoI) to your community’s lead organization on SSEP by November 1, so the size of your needed Step 1 Review Board can be determined and assembled in advance.

November 28, 2011: Deadline for Student Team Proposal Submission to Your Community’s Lead Organization for Step 1 Review

November 29-30, 2011: proposals are processed by your community’s lead organization on SSEP and distributed to your Step 1 Review Board.

December 1-2, 2011: your community’s Step 1 Review Board completes review of proposals, and submits up to 3 finalist proposals to SSEP for each experiment slot you have reserved. The Step 1 Review Board must only forward proposals that meet proposal requirements, as per the Proposal Requirements Checklist (found in the Flight Experiment Proposal Guide which is downloadable from the Document Library.)

December 2, 2011: Deadline for Finalist Proposals to be Received by NCESSE Via Email BY 10:00 PM ET for Step 2 Review

December 3-4, 2011: finalist proposals from across the nation are processed by SSEP Team and distributed to Step 2 Review Board.

December 13-14, 2011: Step 2 Review Board Meets

December 14, 2011: Flight Experiments Tentatively Selected
NCESSE reviews Board’s comments, assesses if there are any outstanding questions regarding fluids/solids to be flown and special handling instructions, and contacts student teams for any clarification or missing information. This milestone is not associated with a public announcement.

December 23, 2011: Flight Experiments Formally Selected
A list of proposals selected for flight are posted on this website. This milestone is associated with a public announcement.

December 23, 2011: Deadline for Second and Final Installment
Deadline for NCESSE to receive second and final installment from your community, with a check to Tides Center (NCESSE’s parent non-profit) for 50% of total cost, allowing program to proceed to the flight phase.

December 26, 2011: List of Flight Experiment Samples Submitted
NCESSE Provides List of Experiment Samples (fluids and solids to be flown), with prescribed concentrations, to NanoRacks for delivery to NASA Toxicology

December 30, 2011: NASA Toxicology Receives List of Experiment Samples
By this time NanoRacks provides the list of flight samples to NASA Toxicology. NASA Toxicology requires receipt of the list 90 days in advance of launch. Launch must therefore take place no earlier than March 30.

Phase 2: The timeline for selected experiments—

Student teams with experiments selected for flight can continue to refine their experiments until they ship their loaded mini-laboratory to NanoRacks.
Note, however, that any modification to the approved list of experiment samples (fluids and solids) for an experiment is limited to specifically
REDUCING concentrations, and addition of new samples is NOT allowed. Also note that a sample can be removed entirely from the
experiment’s list of samples, which corresponds to reducing the concentration to 0.

This section has been updated to reflect the launch of the SSEP Mission 1 to ISS on SpaceX Dragon instead of Soyuz 30, as announced on February 13, 2012 (see Blog Post).

February 1, 2012: Deadline for NCESSE to Receive Mission Patch(es) to Fly to ISS

April 6, 2012 (T= 0 Handover): Deadline for NanoRacks to Receive all Mini-labs from Flight Experiment Teams
Once received, NanoRacks will log receipt of shipment, heat seal level 2 and 3 containment bags around each mini-laboratory, and load the mini-lab into the SSEP Mission 1 Payload.

April 11, 2012 (Handover + 5 days): SSEP Mission 1 Payload turned over by NanoRacks to NASA for Vehicle Integration

Launch Minus 10 Days: SSEP Mission 1 Payload is Loaded onto SpaceX Dragon

May 22, 2012 (Handover +6 Weeks): Current launch date for SSEP Mission 1 Payload on SpaceX Dragon

May 24-26, 2012  (Handover +6.5 Weeks): Payload Transferred to ISS

July 1, 2012 (Handover + 12 Weeks): SSEP Mission 1 Payload Returns to Earth on Soyuz 29

Return to Earth plus 15 – 20 Hours: SSEP Mission 1 Payload Received by NanoRacks in Houston; Mini-labs Shipped Directly To Experiment Teams
Mini-lab ships as soon as FedEx is open. Shipping will be done as per special handling requirements defined by flight experiment team, e.g., pack mini-lab with cold packs. International experimenters will need to have a representative pick up their mini-lab in Houston, and should be standing by in Houston.

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.