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Odessa students watch SpaceX rocket launch their experiment into space

Odessa students watch SpaceX rocket launch their experiment into space

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched from the Kennedy Space Center Thursday night to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Included in its cargo are a science experiment and patch art designed by students from Odessa.

UTPB STEM Academy students taking part in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) designed a winning experiment that was selected to join the mission. While astronauts conduct the experiment at the ISS, students will perform the experiment on Earth for comparison.

The experiment aims to determine if a fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspora, can survive and reproduce in the microgravity environment on ISS. If so, the fungus could be used to decompose plastic waste, which could then become an organic material astronauts could grow plants in for food, according to the Ector County ISD.

The STEM Academy team members are Evan Hernandez, Bryan Nash, Georgi Shoumaroff, Evan Boyer, and Kagan Holder. They are among student participants from all over the U.S., Canada and Ukraine participating in this mission, called SSEP Mission 17. STEM Academy teacher Karey Grametbaur coaches the team, and UTPB scientists Paula Gutierrez, JoAnna Clayton, and Kedaijah Evans serve as mentors.

Accompanying this mission are two mission patches created by students Edith Martinez and Naelie Perez. Their artwork was selected from thousands of entries across Ector County ISD. Mission patches are a U.S. spaceflight tradition dating back to the 1960s.

Ector County ISD’s participation in SSEP was made possible by generous donations from HEB, Chevron, and the Education Foundation.

Listen to this story at 2 pm daily via the Recording Library of West Texas