2013-12-12 / Community

Laker space experiment launch slated for Dec. 18

BY JOHN BONKE
Staff Writer • 810-452-2668 • jbonke@mihomepaper.com

LAKER — A team of junior high students at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Schools have patiently been awaiting the launch of their science experience into outer space.

“It’s been nerve-wracking,” said team member Sarah Hammond.

The mission’s launch date, which has been moved several times from Nov. 11, is scheduled for Dec. 18 at 9:42 p.m.

The Laker student team, which includes Chandler Furness, Hannah Hammond, Sarah Hammond, Chelsey

Katshor, Halle Keim, and Nicholas Wolschlager, is guided by Laker Junior High science teacher Diana Schulz and Kathy Dickens, Laker Elementary Principal and SSEP community program co-director. The students’ Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) experiment — “The Effect of Microgravity on Calcium Absorption by Bones” — was selected by a national panel of professional scientists, engineers and educators to be launched into space.

In their experiment, the junior high

team members will examine if they can get bones to stop losing calcium in space. Astronauts lose 15-30 percent of bone density in space, the student team discovered through research. Theirs, designated Huron County, is one of 11 Student Team Flight Experiments which will be onboard the flight.

“It’s unbelievable,” said team member Halle Keim of the amount of bone loss experienced by astronauts. “This should not be; something needs to be done to help decrease that amount,” she added.

Chandler Furness, another team member, said that he is confident their experiment will succeed and that the calcium will be absorbed. Team member Hannah Hammond explained that on Earth, calcium settles in solutions, but the calcium won’t settle in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station. She also said that she was impressed by the amount of planning and research such an experiment requires. Hammond also appreciates the support of the “exceptionally amazing” larger Laker Community and described the experience as “an opportunity of a lifetime. “It is definitely an amazing feeling to know that your ideas are at the heart of NASA’s space program,” she related about “the idea of helping the future astronauts of the world.”

Sarah Hammond added that she is now “inspired to try new things” and strives “to make a difference.”

Even with all of the hard work and planning of such an effort, fellow team member Chelsey Katshor said the process has increased her interest in science and possibly a science-related career and that now her curiosity leads her to “go home and looks things up.”

Considering a science career was echoed by her teammates, as well as the gratitude for being a part of this research endeavor.

The student experiments have been given the Payload Designation of SSEP6 Orion, named after the Apollo 16 Lunar Module. Apollo 16 was the tenth U.S. Moon mission with a three-member crew. It was launched in April 1972, the fifth and last to land on the lunar surface.

The Ferry Vehicle for the experiments to the ISS will be the Orbital Sciences Orb-1, an Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft configuration. The Launch Date is slated for Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 9:42 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) from the Launch Site at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), located at Wallops Island, Va. The vehicle is expected at the ISS one to four days after launch.

The ISS Crew for SSEP Mission 4 Payload Operations Expedition 38 will be Station Commander Oleg Kotov (Russia); Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy (Russia), Michael Hopkins (USA), Richard Mastracchio (USA) on Twitter @AstroRM, Koichi Wakata (Japan), and Mikhail Tyurin (Russia).

The Ferry Vehicle for Return to Earth is designated as the Russianmade Soyuz 36S, with the crew Kotov, Ryazanskiy and Hopkins. The Undocking-Landing Date is scheduled for March 12, 2014 in Kazakhstan.

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