Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 16 Update at Clarkson

March 14, 2023

Thanks to a lead donation from Corning Incorporated and the Corning Incorporated Foundation, the winning team from Clarkson University’s Clarkson Discovery Challenge-Space (CDC-Space) Mission 16 visited the Kennedy Space Center to witness the launch of SpaceX CRS-26 carrying their very own experiment. The winning team included students Hailey Meagher, Ethan LaVancha, Elaine LaVancha, and their teacher, Nicole Taylor.

student team at Kennedy Space Center
Student Team at Kennedy Space Center.

Clarkson’s CDC-Space program is run in partnership with the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally.

In 2021, the students competed with 50 teams consisting of nearly 150 high school students in over 200 school districts across the country for an opportunity to propose a microgravity experiment on the ISS.

The winning team’s experiment proposed analyzing the effects of feeding algae nutrients in microgravity. Algae is important because it produces oxygen and can be a fuel, fertilizer, or even a food source. The team will then conduct its experiment on Earth to compare results with the experiment on ISS.

“This project was one of the best things that ever happened to me and will inspire me for years to come,” said Meagher. “Knowing that I have contributed to science, no matter how small, and the experience I have gained and the memories that I have made are irreplaceable.”

“The best part was seeing all the cool stuff at the space station, like the Saturn V rocket,” added Ethan LaVancha. “This experience was incredible and I’m happy I got to share it with my friends.”  

“Watching the launch filled me with such an amazing sense of pride,” Elaine LaVancha said. ”The whole experience was completely unreal. I can’t believe something that my friends and I created went up to the ISS where trained astronauts are helping to complete our experiment. Our visit to the space center was one of the best days ever.”

“The experience for our students was wonderful, and I am glad I was able to take part in this educational opportunity,” Taylor concluded. ”Hailey, Elaine, and Ethan are a pleasure to work with, and I am proud to have guided them through this great achievement in their lives they will never forget.”

The students’ results from this experiment will be shared at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. at the SSEP National Conference later this year.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program [or SSEP] is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with Nanoracks LLC, which is working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.

Learn more about the SSEP at

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