This week’s unfortunate events regarding Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket provide the world with a stark reminder that while spaceflight invokes excitement, intrigue and the capacity to answer questions not possible on Earth, it is absolutely not routine. For students, this week offers unique lessons about the challenges and rewards of scientific pursuit.
Onboard the Cygnus capsule that was attached to the Antares rocket was a variety of research intended for the International Space Station (ISS), including a series of investigations from students in grades 4–12. In particular, a the ISS National Lab-developed pilot program entitled the National Design Challenge was to have sent six fully funded payloads to the ISS from three separate Houston-area schools: Awty International, Cristo Rey Jesuit School and Duchesne Academy. We are deeply saddened that the hard work these student researchers put in over this year-long program will not reach its ultimate destination at this time.
However, one of the core missions of the ISS National Lab is to inspire students about what is capable beyond our horizons; to teach how a microgravity environment can unlock many scientific discoveries to enhance our way of life. the ISS National Lab is committed to education, and to giving these students the knowledge that their hard work should be rewarded.
As such, the ISS National Lab will be working with each of the students and teachers from these educational communities to fulfill our obligation to see their research reach the International Space Station.
We truly see the ISS as the ultimate learning classroom for both inspiration and discovery. Space is an incredible platform for wonderment and learning. We hope that although this event provides a reminder on the perils of spaceflight, it does not diminish the sense of intrigue at what is capable when we attempt to explore beyond Earth’s orbit.
The the ISS National Lab team is extremely proud of all the National Design Challenge students, teachers, parents and school staff for their commitment, dedication and completion of their labs. The the ISS National Lab team is inspired by these communities for their enthusiasm to advancing STEM education.