All information added or updated since this page first went up on March 21, 2013, is in
Information still to be determined (if any) is in below.
Dates and times that are subject to change at NASA’s discretion are in below.
Last update of this page: November 4, 2013, 10:20 am ET
This page provides student flight experiment teams comprehensive information on the flight phase operations for SSEP Mission 3 to the International Space Station.
NOTE: this page is for the 5 of 17 Mission 3 to ISS student flight teams flying experiments as part of the SSEP Mission 3 Falcon I payload that was initially scheduled to launch on Soyuz 35S in May 2013, but was moved to Orbital Sciences D-1 (Orb-D1; Antares rocket, Cygnus spacecraft) for launch out of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in September 2013. The Falcon I payload also contains two re-flight experiments (a San Marino, CA, experiment from Mission 1 and a Russell County, VA, experiment from Mission 2, both of which suffered an activation failure on an earlier flight). The two re-flight teams are to use this page as well for flight phase operations.
See the Mission 3 Historical Notes for more information, and why the other 12 of 17 Mission 3 experiments will instead be flying aboard Orb-1 in December 2013 as the SSEP Falcon II payload, along with the Mission 4 Orion payload. Mission 3 student flight teams with experiments in the SSEP Falcon II payload will therefore be directed to the Mission 4 to ISS: Flight Operations page, which will be put up in Fall 2013.
The page features details on preparing the mini-laboratories for flight, incorporation of the mini-labs into the SSEP payload, transportation of the payload to the International Space Station, science operations aboard the station, and the return of the mini-laboratories to the student teams for analysis after the flight. The page is divided into the following sections:
1. Critical Timeline for Flight Phase Operations
2. Preparing the Mini-Laboratory for Flight
3. Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form
4. Required Materials for Return Shipping
5. Shipping the Mini-Laboratory to NanoRacks
6. Transportation of the SSEP Payload to the International Space Station
7. Operations Aboard the International Space Station
8. Conducting the Ground Truth Experiments
9. Receiving the Mini-Laboratory After the Flight
Important note: Given the complexity of transporting science payloads to the International Space Station and the discretionary ability of the agencies involved with the spacecraft launch and landing to make schedule changes, all student teams are asked to remain flexible. This page will be updated by the SSEP operations team when new information on possible changes with launch and landing dates become available. All flight experiment teams are advised to regularly monitor this page.
Nomenclature: During flight phase operations, milestones on the Critical Timeline are stated in terms of Handover + XYZ Days/Weeks, counted from the time the student teams hand over their flight-ready mini-laboratories to NanoRacks for incorporation into the SSEP payload, or as Launch Minus XYZ days/hours. After landing, the milestones are given in terms of Return to Earth + XYZ Hours/Days. Note that these times are stated relative to the scheduled launch and landing, and if there were changes in the schedule, this page will be modified to reflect the new launch and landing dates.
The Critical Timeline for flight phase operations for SSEP Mission 3 to the International Space Station is provided below. All SSEP student experiment teams are required to abide by the following milestones. The milestones are provided relative to the time of handover of the flight experiment mini-labs to NanoRacks in Houston. These milestones are subject to the very fluid nature of launch operations, and should be viewed as a nominal operations profile that is subject to significant change.
T=0, Handover: Deadline for NanoRacks to Receive All Mini-labs from Flight Experiment Teams; Deadline for Any Updates to Fluid/Solid Concentrations, Crew Interactions and Activities, and Special Handling Requirements
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 3 Payload.
Original: April 23, 2013 for Soyuz 35S; Actual: July 29, 2013 for Orb-D1 September flight (Aim is for Launch Minus 4 Weeks)
Notes: April 30, NanoRacks informs NCESSE that payload has been moved to Orb-D1, launching June 15; May 11, NanoRacks informs NCESSE that Orb-D1 delayed until September 2013 due to engine problem; teams provided opportunity to re-fresh experiment mini-lab due to long delay, re-freshed mini-labs due in Houston July 29, 2013, only 1 of 7 teams – Russell County, VA – choose to re-fresh
T + 3 Days: SSEP Mission 3 Payload Turned over by NanoRacks to NASA for Vehicle Integration
(Aim is for Launch Minus 3 Weeks – actual likely Launch Minus 5 Weeks)
Launch Minus 10 Days or Less: SSEP Mission 3 Payload Is Loaded into Ferry Vehicle (Orb- D1)
T + 21 Weeks (for 6 of 7 experiments); T + 7.5 Weeks (for Russell County): Launch of SSEP Mission 3 Payload to ISS
Actual: September 18, 2013, launch window is September 14-19, 2013
T + xx Weeks: Payload Transferred from Ferry Vehicle to ISS (Launch Plus Approximately 3 Days)
Current Target: September 22, 2013 (Orb-D1)
T + Approximately xx Weeks: SSEP Mission 3 Payload Returns to Earth (Launch Plus 7 Weeks)
Current Target: November 10, 2013 (Soyuz 35S)
Return to Earth + (24-48) Hours: SSEP Mission 3 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 or dry ice. International experimenters will need to have their mini-lab shipped to a U.S. address such as an embassy or a consulate, or have a representative pick up their mini-lab in Houston.
Before the flight experiment teams send their mini-laboratories to NanoRacks for incorporation into the SSEP payload, there are several tasks that must be completed to prepare the experiment for flight.
Testing the Experiment
The student teams technically have until a few days before the July 29 deadline for mini-lab arrival in Houston to continue testing their experiment and finalize experiment design. While experiment details were finalized in mid-March 2013 in preparation for the (cancelled) Soyuz 35S flight, the student teams have one final opportunity prior to the launch of Orb-D1, to assess and modify some aspects of their experiment design to maximize science return.
The aspects of experiment design that cannot be changed:
- No new samples can be introduced to the experiment.
- The concentrations or amounts of any samples can not be increased.
Experiment details that can still be changed include:
- The concentrations and amounts of the samples can be reduced, even all the way to zero, which means that the sample is removed from the experiment.
- Special handling requirements.
- Dates for Crew Interaction with the experiment aboard the ISS, and the nature of the interactions.
Results of Flight Safety Review
In mid December the experiment details for every student experiment selected for flight were submitted to NanoRacks for forwarding to NASA Toxicology for a formal Flight Safety Review. The results of the review will be posted on this Web page. We expect the results to be a simple “go-ahead” for all experiments (as has been the case for SSEP payloads in the past), but if any concerns about any experiment were to be raised by NASA Toxicology, we’ll contact the student teams in question directly.
STATUS OF MISSION 3 FLIGHT SAFETY REVIEW: APPROVED FOR FLIGHT
Choosing the Mini-Laboratory to Be Used for Flight
At the beginning of this flight opportunity, a package of five Fluid Mixing Enclosure (FME) kits were sent to the Community Leader of each Mission 3 SSEP community. The package includes materials to make five complete FME mini-laboratories. One of these kits was to be used to assemble the mini-laboratory that the team would load with experiment samples and ship to NanoRacks for flight, while the others can be used to conduct ground truth experiments to help with the analysis of the experiment results. NOTE: the flight mini-lab requires use of the scored glass ampoules (for the Type II or Type III FME).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Mission 3 teams flying experiments on Soyuz 35S will be using the current FME mini-lab design, however on March 12, 2013 NanoRacks shipped new components with important modifications. The reason: due to the rupture of one mini-lab Teflon tube on the Mission 2 payload, NanoRacks has obtained a new batch of Teflon tubes, and is also shrink-wrapping a plastic sleeve around the tube for added containment. In addition they have modified the scoring on the Type II and Type III glass ampoules for the flight mini-lab.
Here is what NanoRacks shipped to you on March 12, as indicated on the packing list included in the shipment:
a. For the five Mission 3 communities on Soyuz 35S, NanoRacks shipped: 3 flight-ready Teflon tubes (black jacketed), 2 long glass ampoules scored for flight, and 4 short glass ampoules scored for flight – so enough components to construct two flight mini-laboratories. As before, each Teflon tube will be closed at one end with a pinned Teflon stopper, and the other end will be threaded to accept the screw top with the O-ring. As before, the newly scored glass ampoules will accept the same rubber stoppers. The student flight teams should therefore use the screw caps and stoppers they already have.
b. For the two re-flight communities (Russell County, and San Marino), NanoRacks shipped 5 flight-ready Teflon tubes (black jacketed), 2 long glass ampoules scored for flight, and 4 short glass ampoules scored for flight – so enough components to construct two flight mini-laboratories. There are also un-scored glass ampoules in the kits to be used for ground truth experiments. Each package also included all screw caps and stoppers.
Should a flight experiment team need one more additional sets of glass ampoules scored for flight, or an additional flight Teflon tube, please let Stacy Hamel know and she will have NanoRacks promptly send them out.
If the flight experiment teams do not have an FME kit designated for flight already, they are advised to contact their Community Leader as soon as possible to make sure they’ll have sufficient time to assemble the mini-laboratory to be used for flight and practice loading the samples into the device.
Loading Experiment Samples into the Mini-Laboratory
Each flight experiment team will load their samples into the flight mini-laboratory to be used for the experiment and ship the flight-ready devices to NanoRacks for incorporation in the SSEP payload. That is, the students will be loading the samples into the actual flight hardware that will fly aboard the International Space Station themselves, and no-one else will tamper with the samples after the students have sealed the mini-laboratory. To help the teams with the loading process, NanoRacks has created an instructional video and a step-by-step guide that are available in the SSEP Documents Library. The teams are urged to study these documents carefully and practice loading samples (or dummy versions of samples) into the device to make sure everything will go smoothly when they prepare the actual flight-ready mini-laboratories. The step-by-step guide for loading the experiment samples is a PDF file called “NanoRacks MixStik Kit Instructions“, and the video is an mp4 file called “MixStik Assembly Video“. The teams can get the user name and password required to access these files from their SSEP Community Leader. Important notes:
- The teams must ship the complete, flight-ready mini-laboratory. NanoRacks will not add any samples to the mini-laboratory in Houston. Once NanoRacks receives the experiment devices, they will heat-seal level 2 and 3 containment bags around the mini-labs, and incorporate it into the SSEP payload. Shipping of samples that are not inside the flight-ready mini-laboratory will lead to the loss of your experiment slot on this flight.
- It is not necessary to label the mini-laboratory to indicate where the different glass ampoules are, even if the team is using a Type 3 mini-laboratory. As explained in the step-by-step loading guide, the order in which the teams load the ampoules into the mini-laboratory will let NanoRacks know which ampoule is Ampoule A and which is Ampoule B. Once the mini-laboratory is sealed within the extra containment bags, the outside bag is marked clearly to indicate which end of the mini-laboratory contains which ampoule. Any markings on the outer tube will be ignored during payload processing, so the student team must make sure to load the ampoules into the mini-laboratory in the correct order. This order is also specified in the Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form (see Section 3 below.) Note that if a team wants to mark the outside of the mini-laboratory tube for their own use (for example to help with the analysis of the experiment after the device has returned to Earth), that is perfectly fine.
Requirement for All Samples to Be Used: Precisely as Specified to NASA Toxicology
An absolute requirement for the samples the student teams will load into their flight-ready mini-laboratory is that they must be the precise fluids and solids that have been specified to NASA Toxicology for the experiment. However, the teams have the ability to reduce concentrations until they ship their flight mini-lab to Houston. This also includes the possibility of removing a sample by reducing the concentration to zero. Given that these modifications are allowable, yet such modifications must still be formally approved in advance of launch, the approval process is to be conducted through the use of the Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form (see Section 3 below.) This means that the samples the student teams will load into the mini-laboratory must be those that are approved as part of the process of submitting the final Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form, and the samples must be at the approved concentrations. Sending a mini-laboratory to NanoRacks that contains samples other than those approved for flight will lead to the loss of your experiment slot on this flight.
Recording the Exact Quantities Loaded into the Mini-Laboratory
While the student teams are loading their experiment samples into the mini-laboratory that will fly to the International Space Station, they are urged to measure and record the exact quantities of all samples loaded into the device. While the teams likely will be able to use exactly the amounts of all solids and samples declared in their Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form, it is always possible that during the actual loading, the exact quantities that can fit inside the mini-laboratory may vary slightly. Recording the exact quantities placed inside the device is especially important for the ground truth experiments (see section Section 8 below), since the team will likely want to conduct the ground truth experiment using exactly the same quantities of samples as the flight experiment.
Each student flight experiment team must verify their experiment details using a Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form before shipping their flight-ready mini-laboratory to NanoRacks for incorporation into the SSEP payload. The purpose of the Form is to ensure that the student team and NCESSE are in full agreement on the final flight experiment details. The preliminary version of this Form was created to support submission of experiment details to NASA for flight safety review in December 2012. Due to, e.g., experiment refinement since December 2012, if a team wants to change any details of the experiment before shipping their flight-ready mini-laboratory for launch, they must request the modifications as part of the process to finalize this Form.
Finalizing the Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form
During the week of July 15-19, 2013, NCESSE sent the signed and executed Flight Sample Handling Agreements to each student flight experiment team. At that time, all teams confirmed that there would be no modification requests to the already signed and executed agreements.
The student teams that have requested to refresh/reload their experiment samples prior to flight, must load their experiment samples into the flight mini-laboratory as specified in this agreement, and ship the flight-ready device to NanoRacks so that it will arrive in Houston no later than July 29, 2013. The completed Form will also include the final special handling requirements, the Crew Interaction dates and activities for the experiment aboard the ISS, and if arranged, details for how the team will drop off the mini-laboratory in person before the flight and/or picking it up in person after the flight. The student flight experiment team must include a copy of the signed Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form with their flight-ready mini-laboratory when shipping to NanoRacks.
Before a student flight experiment team ships their flight-ready mini-lab to NanoRacks, they need to formulate their plan for the return of their mini-laboratory after the flight.
FedEx Airbill for Return Shipping
If a flight experiment team wants the mini-laboratory shipped back to them after the flight, they must include in their original shipment of the flight-ready mini-laboratory to NanoRacks a completed FedEx airbill for return shipping. The team may wait until closer to the return of the SSEP payload to Earth before sending their airbill, but the return airbill must reach NanoRacks before the payload lands, so sending it at the time of the original shipment for flight is the easiest option. The teams are advised to make sure to provide all required information, such as:
- The address to which the mini-laboratory is to be sent after the flight. Note that the team may want to use an address where the package can be delivered on Saturday, if desired.
- Sender’s address: NanoRacks’ address in Houston (see Section 5 below).
- Choice of delivery speed (likely overnight).
- Choice of Saturday delivery, if appropriate, given the delivery speed chosen. Note that there is usually an extra charge for Saturday delivery.
- The team’s FedEx account number or credit card number written on the airbill.
- Request for signature upon delivery to make sure the package is not left unattended on a doorstep. This is especially important if the package is delivered to a residential address.
Important note: The mini-laboratories cannot be sent back to the team after the flight without a fully completed airbill, so the student team must make sure they have sent the airbill to NanoRacks before the SSEP payload returns to Earth. It is easiest to do this by including the return airbill in their original shipment (unless the team is picking up the mini-laboratory in person after the flight.)
Supplies for Special Handling During Return Shipping
If a student team is requesting any special handling of their samples during return shipping, such as shipping the samples with cold packs, the necessary materials must be sent to NanoRacks before the SSEP payload returns to Earth. It is easiest to do this by including the supplies with the original shipment of the flight-ready mini-laboratory. For example, if the team wants to use a special shipping container for the return shipment and include cold packs in the package, the team must send the container and the cold packs so they are ready to be used as soon as NanoRacks receives the SSEP payload after the flight. If the necessary supplies are not available when NanoRacks is ready to ship the FME back to the team, the return shipment will be made without the supplies. If the original shipment is sent refrigerated with cold packs, the same cold packs can be used for the return shipment; there is no need to send a second set, as long as the cold packs can be reused.
Your flight-ready mini-laboratory must be sent to NanoRacks in Houston using FedEx, and DO NOT request a signature for delivery. Your mini-laboratory cannot arrive in Houston sooner than Thursday, April 11, 2013 (original minimum date for Soyuz 35S), and cannot arrive later than Monday, July 29, 2013 (date for Orb-D1). Note that April 13 and 20, 2013, are Saturdays, and it is possible that NanoRacks staff will not be on site to accept the package if it arrives on Saturday. Note that the package is being dropped off at a secure facility, so that Saturday delivery is fine if there are no impacted special handling requirements. For example, if you have need for refrigeration, and the package arrives on Saturday, cold packs you shipped with the mini-lab may be exhausted before staff return on Monday. Also note that if you accidentally request signature on delivery, and the package arrives on a Saturday, the package will be placed back on the FedEx truck and might not be re-delivered for a few days. Also note that FedEx does not deliver on Sunday. Work with FedEx so that your package is delivered in compliance with these requirements and constraints.
Note that if your package is not delivered by the deadline for FME receipt (for whatever reason), it will lead to the loss of your experiment slot on this flight opportunity.
NanoRacks will provide to each flight experiment team a shipping container to be used for shipping the flight-ready mini-laboratory to Houston. The container has been designed to fit the mini-laboratory snugly inside it to prevent unnecessary jostling of the device during shipping. All student teams must use this container to send the mini-laboratory to NanoRacks. The container consists of a PVC tube, inside which the team can place their mini-laboratory, and two foam caps to be placed at the end of the tube to secure the mini-lab in place.
NOTE: NanoRacks will be shipping out to each school one additional PVC return shipping tube for each flight-ready mini-laboratory. This will allow both flight ready mini-laboratories to be shipped back to NanoRacks securely AND IN THE SAME BOX.
UPDATE: this was a result of a last minute requirement by the Russians for a second flight mini-lab; this requirement was removed once the payload was removed from the Soyuz 35S manifest and instead manifested on Orb-D1.
To place the flight-ready FME inside the shipping container, follow these steps:
- Once you have loaded your samples into the FME, screw the white teflon end cap into the open end of the FME to seal the samples inside.
- Place the sealed FME inside the plastic bag you received as part of the shipping container package.
- Close the bag and roll it tightly around the FME.
- Insert the FME inside the PVC tube shipping container and place the foam end caps at the ends to hold the FME securely inside.
- Place a piece of tape on the ends of the PVC tube to hold the foam caps in place during shipping.
The team can then place the container in a shipping box addressed to NanoRacks, using bubblewrap and/or packing peanuts, as appropriate, to prevent the mini-laboratory container from being jostled about inside the shipping box. Any additional supplies (such as cold packs) the team may want to use or send for return shipment can be placed in the same shipping box. Remember to label all supplies for current use or for return shipping. IMPORTANT NOTE: A copy of the signed final Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form must also be included in the shipping box.
Shipping and Shipping Address
All packages must be sent using FedEx. Be sure to write down the tracking number for your package and DO NOT request a signature on delivery.
Attn: SSEP Mission Integration
18100 Upper Bay Road, Suite 150
Houston, TX 77058
Phone: +1 (832) 573-7424 (phone for Mike Johnson, NanoRacks CTO)
IMPORTANT REQUIREMENT: Once you ship your flight mini-lab to NanoRacks in Houston, please send an email to Stacy Hamel (email@example.com) with the FedEx tracking number so that NCESSE and NanoRacks have the ability to track the package. Note that if you use the FedEx website to print your shipping label, in the “E-mail Notifications” section you can specify that emails tracking the progress of the package along the route are automatically sent to you, and you can specify that these emails should also be sent to Stacy Hamel.
Dropping Off the Mini-Laboratory in Person
Instead of shipping the mini-laboratory using FedEx, the student experiment teams also have the option of dropping off their mini-lab in person in Houston. This is considered a special handling requirement and must be requested in advance using the Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form (see Section 3 above.) More details on where and when to drop off the experiment device will be provided to those teams who have requested this option after the form has been completed and approved.
Incorporating the Mini-Laboratory into the SSEP Payload
Once NanoRacks receives each mini-laboratory, they will log receipt of the shipment and store the mini-lab in the SSEP payload processing facility until it is incorporated into the payload. During this time, there are two choices for the temperature in which the mini-laboratory is stored: 1) storage at room temperature (21-24ºC; 70-74ºF), or 2) storage in a standard refrigerator temperature (2-4°C; 36-39°F). If the team wants their mini-lab refrigerated, this must be brought to the attention of NanoRacks through the Special Handling section of the Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form (see Section 3 above). The SSEP payload processing facility will have copies of these forms, and, on arrival, each shipment will be assessed as to whether there are special handling needs that need to be implemented. Any instructions written on or inside the shipping package that are not included in the Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form will be ignored. During payload processing, NanoRacks will heat-seal level 2 and 3 containment bags around each mini-laboratory (in a way that will not raise the temperature inside it), and load it into the SSEP payload. NanoRacks will turn over the payload to NASA for transportation to the launch site and vehicle integration about xx weeks before launch.
After the individual mini-laboratories are incorporated into the SSEP payload, the entire payload is handed over to NASA where it will be placed in a refrigerator. There is no refrigeration aboard Orb-D1.
The SSEP payload is expected to be delivered to the International Space Station 4 days after launch. The payload will return to Earth on Soyuz 35S, which is scheduled to undock from the station on November 10, 2013. The teams are advised to check back for updates on the expected times for the departure of the SSEP payload from the ISS.
Experiment Timeline on the Station
The timeline for handling each team’s mini-laboratory is defined in the Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form (see Section 3 above). NanoRacks will incorporate the requests for manipulating each mini-laboratory into a master schedule to be followed by astronauts on orbit. The Mission 3 to ISS teams can only ask for crew interaction with their experiments during the five scheduled crew interaction days. For more information about the way the student teams can specify handling of their experiment aboard the station, see the section titled: “4. Mixing the Experiment Samples in the FME Once in Orbit, and Astronaut Handling” of the SSEP Mission 3 to ISS: Mini-Laboratory Operation page. Note that the timeline for each experiment will be reassessed once the exact dates for the arrival to and the departure from the ISS, as well as the overall ISS crew schedule, are known. Therefore, the timelines for all experiments remain tentative until they are incorporated into the final ISS work schedule.
Updates to Student Teams on the Progress of Their Experiment
Astronauts will work with the SSEP payload at times of the day that fit best in their overall work schedule. Even though crew interactions with the experiments are to take place on pre-specified Crew Interaction Days, the time of interaction can therefore vary from one Crew Interaction day to the next. While the SSEP program team may know the astronauts’ planned work schedule a few days in advance, we’ll not know exactly when the payload is handled until the task is complete. After the astronauts have completed handling of the SSEP payload, NanoRacks will forward a report on the activity to the SSEP program team, which will then post the details, including the time at which the payload was handled, on the SSEP Mission 3 to ISS: Experiment Log page to make the information available to all student teams as quickly as possible. The report will be posted as soon as it is received, but it may take up to 24 hours for the information from the International Space Station to make its way to the log. That means, for example, that the details of an activity conducted by the astronauts on the afternoon of September 24 will be posted on the Experiment Log no later than the afternoon of September 25 (and likely far sooner than that).
Ground truth experiments – the control versions of the experiment conducted on Earth while the microgravity experiment is being conducted in orbit – are an essential part of analyzing the results of the flight experiment. Once the flight experiment returns to Earth, simultaneous harvesting and analysis of both the flight experiment and the ground truth experiments allows the research team to assess the role of gravity in the physical, chemical, or biological system under study. It is hard to imagine how the role of gravity can be determined without ground truth experiments conducted at the same time as the flight experiment.
However, given that it may take up to a day to receive a report on exactly what time of day a specific activity was conducted with an experiment aboard the ISS, the student team may want to shift activities with their ground truth experiments by 1 day (24 hours). That will allow teams to ensure that the timing of activities they carry out on their ground truth experiments accurately reflects the timing of activities with their experiment aboard the station. This is especially important for experiments that are sensitive to exact timing. For example, if a microbiological experiment is likely to produce different results depending on whether it is active for 40 or 50 hours, the teams will want to match the exact timing of the experiment aboard the station with their ground truth experiment.
The SSEP payload is scheduled to return to Earth aboard Soyuz 35S on November 10, 2013. The payload is flown from the landing site in Kazakhstan to Houston immediately after landing, and NanoRacks is expected to receive the payload from NASA 24-48 hours after landing in Kazakhstan. NanoRacks will process the payload and turn over the mini-laboratories to the student teams as quickly as possible. The student teams can pick up the mini-laboratories in person in Houston, or NanoRacks can ship the devices back to the student teams.
Shipping Mini-Laboratories Back to Student Teams
The student experiment teams that want their mini-laboratories shipped back to them must send a return FedEx airbill with the shipment of their original flight-ready mini-lab to NanoRacks (see Section 4) by the time the return ferry vehicle lands. NanoRacks will use the airbills and any special handling materials provided by the teams to ship the mini-laboratories as soon as possible. Shipping will be done as per special handling requirements defined by flight experiment team in the Experiment Details Confirmation Form (see Section 3 above.) Remember that if a team is requesting any special handling of their samples during return shipping (such as shipping the samples with cold packs), the necessary materials must be sent to NanoRacks before the SSEP payload returns to Earth. This is accomplished easiest by including the supplies with the original shipment of the flight-ready mini-laboratory. If the necessary supplies are not available when NanoRacks is ready to ship the FME back to the team, the return shipment will be made without the supplies.
Picking up the Mini-Laboratory in Person
Instead of having the mini-laboratory returned using FedEx, the student experiment teams have the option of picking up their mini-lab in person in Houston. This is considered a special handling requirement and must be requested in advance using the Flight Experiment Details Confirmation Form (see Section 3 above.) The specifics of where and when to pick up the mini-lab in person will be provided to those teams that have requested this option, once the return date and time for the SSEP payload to Houston has been confirmed.
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), Carnegie Institution of Washington, NASA Nebraska Space Grant Consortium, and Subaru of America, Inc., are National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.