HISD students' experiment heading to space

October 3, 2012 5:24:31 PM PDT
We're counting down to another launch to the International Space Station. And while the launch will be a sight to see, the rocket's cargo is equally impressive. Along with supplies for the ISS, the rocket will carry some experiments created by local students that could lead the way to some major medical advancements.

One of the most impressive things here is the age of these HISD students involved. They are just 14, now freshman in high school. These are winners of a national initiative to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

After successfully proving the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule in May, SpaceX is set to launch cargo and science experiments again to the International Space Station.

Former Pershing Middle School students Allie Burns and her classmates will watch the launch knowing the payload this time includes one of their experiments.

"I think it's kind of crazy. I'm still in shock and in disbelief about the thought of something that I did going up into space," Burns said.

Theirs was chosen from over 1,100 submitted nationwide for 23 spots on board the capsule.

"We put a lot of time into it and a lot of work, and it was just a group effort that got us in," student Ivan Arizpe said.

"If you put effort into your work, big things can happen," student Austin Abbott said.

Their experiment will measure how bacteria reacts to an antibiotic in zero gravity.

"Is there any difference to their susceptibility or resistance to antibiotics in space?" teacher Susan Broz said.

This is the second mission for the student space flight experiments program. Fourteen-year-old Emily Soice had an experiment on the first one and gets to send it up again because of a testing snafu last time. Her experiment may show whether pig liver cells can be grown in space and one day if human organs can be cultivated without gravity weighing the cells down.

"We can use those organs as our own," Soice said.

Both experiments have potentially big payoffs for all of us right back here on Earth.

The SpaceX launch is set for Sunday evening from Kennedy Space Center. The experiments will spend about six weeks aboard the space station before being returned home to be compared to an Earth-bound control.


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