NASA Schedules SpaceEagles STEM Experiment Launch for June 1

After several delays, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has set a firm launch date and time for SpaceX mission CRS- 11, which will carry Alta Loma Christian School’s SpaceEagles Orbital Experiment Mission 1 (OEM-1) to the International Space Station.

The long-awaited launch is scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 1, at 2:55 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, from historic Launch Complex LC- 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. It is the same launch pad from which Apollo 11 lifted off on its journey to place the first man on the moon in July of 1969.

“Our middle school STEM students, mentor-teachers, and ISS team administrators are extremely excited by this news,” beamed Dr. Vance Nichols, ALCS head of school. “This is the first time we’ve actually had a countdown, so the clock is advancing toward the launch of our kids’ experiment to the ISS. It is very, very exciting!”

“FINALLLYYYYYY!!!” exclaimed ISS mentor-teacher, Ms. Jasmine Royse, echoing the sentiments of students and mentor-teachers alike.

SpaceX’s CRS-11 is scheduled to transport the SpaceEagles’ STEM Quest for Space Beta ISS Project robotics software experiment to the ISS, inside a Dragon re-supply capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The Quest for Space experiment package—including ALCS’ robotic-controlling software experiment—will be accompanied by three other crucial experiment and payload packages, according to NASA. Those include the Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR Mission (NICER); the Multiple User System for Earth Sensing Facility (MUSES); and the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA). (see the Spaceflight Profile below for more details)

“The kinds of delays and adjustments in launch schedules we’ve experienced since February are pretty typical, but now it looks like those postponements are finally over, especially since the countdown has started,” smiled Dr. Nichols. “SpaceX already has our experiment, which passed NASA inspection, so our space science and engineering team has done its part. Now it’s time to actually launch and transport our kids’ experiment to the ISS.”

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Especially in the Beta year of the Quest for Space ISS Project for the 10 middle schools across the nation selected for the Project, including ALCS, it was a challenge for the students to get up-to-speed quickly enough and develop enough scientific and technical engineering ability to complete the experiment in time to meet NASA’s submission deadline back in December. But according to the programs mentor-teachers, ALCS’ SpaceEagles pulled it off, and in impressive fashion.

“A lot of hard work, time, and dedication went into the building of this experiment. The students exceeded our expectations by a light year!” exclaimed ISS mentor-teacher and STEM coordinator, Mrs. Michelle Martinez. “We are super excited to finally see it launched into space.”

The upcoming launch will mark the first time in American spaceflight history that: (1) more than one middle school space science and engineering team will have experiments transported to the ISS; (2) multiple software programs created by middle school students will be carried into orbit; and (3) experiments collaborated on by middle schoolers at multiple schools will go into space. ALCS’ history-making middle school SpaceEagles are Samuel B., Tyler B., Simon N., Jeffrey K., Michelle L., Evan M., and Ishan S.

Plans are being formulated for a live viewing of the launch (a.k.a. “launch party”) on the ALCS campus on Thursday afternoon, June 1. Details of the viewing will be forthcoming, according to Dr. Nichols.

“We’re looking forward to launch day as a wonderful moment in the lives of our kids and in the life of our school,” said Dr. Nichols. “We praise the Lord for the way He has blessed our school and this program, and we pray for Him to bless this launch and our first space mission. To Him be the glory.”

The SpaceEagles Module set to be launched to the ISS in March 2017