Durham County Library and Higher Orbits, a non-profit with the mission of promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education through the launchpad of spaceflight, are pleased to announce Team Orion the winner of the Go For Launch! (GFL!) 2018 Durham Series presented by the Durham County Library and Durham Library Foundation. Higher Orbits, in partnership with the Library and Foundation, brought the Go For Launch! 2018 Durham Series experience to high school students in Durham, NC across six events held between April 2017 and August 2018.
Team Orion’s “Radiotrophic Fungi: A Possible Radiation Barrier” experiment is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) December 4, 2018 on the SpaceX CRS-16 mission. Team Orion members Graham Shunk, Srikar Prasad Kaligotla, Xavier Gomez, Jamison R. Fuller and Finn Poulin developed their “Radiotrophic Fungi: A Possible Radiation Barrier” experiment to address the ever-present problem of high radiation levels in space travel and habitation. The experiment will monitor the growth of the radiotrophic fungus, Cladosporium sphaerospermum that feeds off of radiation, to determine if it will reduce radiation levels in space environments and habitats.
The team is excited about their experiment being selected as the winner of the 2018 Durham Series, presented by Big Bang Sponsors the Durham County Library and Durham Library Foundation, and the opportunity to be on-site in early-December at Kennedy Space Center, Florida to watch their winning experiment launch to the International Space Station aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the SpaceX CRS-16 mission.
“To be able to contribute to the exploration of a whole new frontier is really cool. This experience escalated from a Go For Launch! summer camp experience to a scale out of this world literally) and that is truly amazing and memorable,” exclaimed Finn Poulin Team Orion member.
“All of the experiments designed by students during the six Go For Launch! events in Durham County were very impressive, and we are extremely proud that team Orion’s experiment will represent all of them and be flown to the International Space Station. It’s exciting that Durham County Library will be the first library that we know of to have a student experiment sent into space. We can’t wait to see what results will come from it!” said Matthew Clobridge, Technology Management Administrator, Durham County Library.
Go For Launch! is Higher Orbits’ flagship STEM experience designed to promote space exploration for aspiring students through interactive, hands-on activities delivered by experienced industry professionals. During a Go For Launch! event, students work with former astronauts, former International Space Station and Space Shuttle controllers, astronaut instructors, scientists and engineers. Working in teams, students sharpen their communications and leadership skills while designing innovative science experiments that could be flown to the International Space Station where their experiments would be conducted in microgravity.
Students present their experiment concept to a panel of judges representing space and STEM fields for the opportunity to be selected the winning team of their division and earning the opportunity for their experiment to be launched to and executed on the International Space Station. In partnership with Space Tango, the Go For Launch! student experiments are executed inside the International Space Station within Space Tango’s TangoLab. TangoLab allows for multiple CubeLab experiments to run automatically and is the ideal platform for leveraging student space exploration engagement.
“We are honored to partner with Durham County Library and Durham Library Foundation in our mission to inspire the next generation of innovative and creative space explorers.” said Michelle
Lucas Higher Orbits founder and Go For Launch! Program Director. “Space inspires. And through the generous support of Durham County Library and Durham Library Foundation we are able to
bring the life-changing Go For Launch! spaceflight STEM experience to Durham NC area students at no cost to the students.”