UPDATE: SSEP Launch rescheduled for Friday, July 26th, at 3:00 p.m.



A group of students from Damien High School will be sending their experiment to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, July 25, 2019, at 3:00pm (6:00 eastern time), aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon Spacecraft. The rocket will be launched out of Cape Canaveral, Florida.  The experiment is being launched as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) at Damien High School and is one of 38 student experiments selected from around the country and internationally to be carried out on the ISS.


The team of students is comprised of Co-Principal Investigators: Anthony Ebiner, Dylan McKenzie, Curtis Lin, and Kotoi Wu. The experiment will be investigating the effect of microgravity on fungi growth patterns.   The two main objectives of this experiment will be to see how the observed growth patterns can help in the propagation and cultivation of mushrooms in microgravity and to see if the results will support two different theories on how fungi can detect and respond to gravity. The two theories are 1. David Moore’s theory on mushroom gravimorphogenesis: the apex of the stem is the part of the organism that sensitively responds to gravity’s effects and 2. Jan Monzer’s theory on fungi gravitropism: the nucleus of fungi’s hyphal cells act like an otolith, responding to the direction of the gravitational forces. The students will be carrying out an identical experiment here on Earth during the same time period that their experiment will be aboard the International Space Station and they will compare results once the microgravity experiment returns to Earth.


As participants in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, Damien students first had to learn about microgravity in their science classes.  In groups, the students designed their own microgravity experiment and wrote a 5-page research proposal.  In November, a committee of local scientists and alumni selected three Damien research proposals as finalists, which were then submitted to a national selection committee.  This national selection committee selected one of the three proposed experiments for the July 2019 spaceflight.


Damien’s participation in SSEP creates a valuable opportunity to engage students in real-world learning experiences. “As a school, we recognize the need to introduce and support high quality, inquiry based, hands-on science teaching for all our students,” said Charity Maricic, Director of the Damien SSEP program. “Through SSEP, we were given the opportunity to let the students become real scientists and partake in real science inquiry at the highest level.  Our students have had the chance to do something every scientist dreams of doing.”


For more information on the SSEP Mission 13 and the launch, please visit:



The generous donors who enabled Damien’s participation in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program include Dr. Tas Dienes ’88, and the California Space Grant.


The SSEP is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, a non-profit organization that inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers in engaging their curiosity and intrigue. The SSEP is undertaken by the 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.

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