February 29, 2024

U.S. and Canadian National Model STEM Education Program Opportunity for Undergraduate Institutions

Announcing the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) 21st Flight Opportunity - SSEP Mission 19 to the International Space Station, Starting September 2024    

2024-25 Academic Year Opportunity for 2- and 4-year Colleges and Universities to Engage 30+ Students (Reflecting at Least 10 Teams) in Real Microgravity Experiment Design and Proposal Writing, with One Experiment at Your Institution Selected for Operation By Astronauts on the International Space Station

STEM Project-Based Learning Through Immersion in an Authentic Research Experience on the High Frontier

TIME CRITICAL: interested school districts are directed to inquire about the program as soon as possible, and no later than April 15, 2024

Experiment Design and Proposal Writing Phase: September 3 - November 5, 2024 (9 weeks)

Selection of Your Community's Flight Experiment: December 20, 2024

SpaceX Launch of Your Experiment to the International Space Station: Late Spring 2025

Ferry Flight Return to Earth: Launch + 4 to 6 weeks

SSEP National Conference, likely at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC: early July 2025 

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education announces Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 19 to the International Space Station. This opportunity gives students across your institution the ability to design and propose microgravity experiments to fly in low-Earth orbit on the International Space Station (ISS). Experiments are designed to real world engineering and technology constraints imposed by the flight certified mini-lab that must be used, and the nature of flight operations to and from Low Earth Orbit. One experiment at each institution will be selected to fly to ISS on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in FL. Your experiment will launch from historic pad 39A, the same pad from which all Apollo missions to the Moon launched, and 82 Space Shuttle missions. Astronauts aboard ISS will operate the experiment for 4-6 weeks before it is returned to Earth and to your student flight team for harvesting and analysis. SSEP is not a simulation. We are truly inviting your institution and students to be part of America's Space Program.

Over the history of human spaceflight, a mission patch has been associated with every NASA mission. A college or university can engage hundreds of students in mission patch art and design competitions - as possibly outreach to local school districts, with two patches selected to fly with the flight experiment.  SSEP is therefore an authentic STEAM initiative. We invite institutions to use their mission patch competitions to also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon missions, and humans returning to the Moon in likely 2025 with NASA's Artemis Program.

An important consideration - the expectation is that faculty mentors in a participating 2- or 4-year college or university will engage at least 30 undergraduate students over 9 weeks of experiment design and proposal writing spanning September 3 through November 5, 2024. Students will form into at least 10 teams, each team designing a microgravity experiment in a science discipline of their choice. Each team writes a formal proposal to make the case for why their experiment should be selected for flight to ISS. Your students will be engaged in a very real research proposal competition, focusing on technical writing, mirroring the experiences of professional scientists and engineers. A national review board meeting in Washington, DC, will select the flight experiment for your institution, and do the same for each of the other Mission 19 participating communities.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) provides a fully authentic research competition as a STEM Project Based Learning experience. Launch of the Mission 19 flight experiments is currently projected for Spring 2025. Mission 19 occurs across the 2024-25 academic year.

For program details, and how to explore this opportunity for your community, carefully read the SSEP Home Page, which provides a comprehensive summary of the program:

To explore undergraduate participation in SSEP Missions to date, visit:

Program Contact: 
Dr. Jeff Goldstein, Center Director
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE)