Rockwall is one of 18 communities across the US and Canada that is sending an experiment to the International Space Station as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 6. As part of the SSEP competition, Rockwall ISD middle school students to design a microgravity experiment proposal.  Over 600 students comprising 225 teams competed. Following a District-level judging, three team experiments were submitted to the national SSEP panel with the winning team selected to conduct their experiment on the International Space Station (ISS).  The winning team members include Will Brown, Ryan Figert, Brooks Helmer, Chase Howerton, Harrison Smith, and James Matthews.

The team collaborated with University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center mentors on the development of their proposal How Microgravity affects Yeast Cell Division and How it Relates to Human Cancer Cells. In working with the team, Kartik Rajagopalan of UT Southwestern told the team, “Scientists and physicians are always looking for ways to cure cancer in human patients. If we find that microgravity causes a growth defect in cancer, it is possible it could be used as a therapeutic option for cancer patients.”

The team’s experiment will be ferried to the ISS in October of this year and the students will be asked to present the findings of their experiment next summer at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

The Student Space Flight Experiments Program [or just “SSEP”] ( is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE; in partnership with Nanoracks, LLC.

This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. Below are links to the district website and to the NCESSE website if you would like more information about the SSEP program.

Stay tuned as Rockwall ISD student learning goes out of this world!

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