The upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch tentatively scheduled for Monday, August 14 will transport various experiments to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the CRS-12 mission. Just days prior to launch, the Kennedy Space Center complex is filled with new faces as researchers, implementation partners, and Boy Scouts make last-minute preparations for launch.
Yes, that’s right, Boy Scouts. Two of them were seen donning winter coats outside a walk-in freezer, clearly excited to work on their bacteria experiment. The Boy Scout team as part of The Pathway to Adventure Council, based in Chicago, developed components that will go inside a module container supplied by their implementation partner, NanoRacks, to study E. coli mutation rates in microgravity. In order to keep the bacteria from growing before it reaches space, the team must keep their experiment extremely cold. The walk-in freezer (at a temperature of -20oC) will allow them to insert the bacteria into the NanoRacks module and seal it while the E. coli remains unchanged.
When asked about his emotions leading up to the launch, Boy Scout Harmon Bhasin said, “I’m pretty happy and just really excited for this, because we’ve been working on this for two years now, and it’s going to be really nice to see all of the work pay off.” Harmon later admitted, “I’ve been nervous because I want everything to go right!”
Boy Scout Andrew Frank added that “it’s kind of like anticipation and just waiting for it to happen, but it’s really cool because we get to see everything we’ve done in action.”
Nikki Sullivan, mechanical engineering mentor for the team, joined the project with no expectations, but after watching the young explorers work with 3D printing and modeling and laser cutting, she wants everyone to know that “the future is incredibly bright.” When asked how she felt about the launch, Sullivan said, “Being able to participate in this and actually be able to attend the launch is a dream come true.”
John Marks, an adult mentor and team member, called this group of researchers “truly amazing.” Marks drew attention to the team’s persistence and dedication and praised their ability to solve problems and build new skills, such as software development and soldering.
Karl Frank, an assistant Scout master for Troop 209 and Andrew’s father, may have said it best when he said, “even if something fails up there, it’s already a success!”
To learn more about the Scout experiment and other station research, visit www.spacestationresearch.com.