Traverse City West High School students' experiment launches into space on rocket

(WPBN/WGTU)-- An experiment conducted by a group of four students from Traverse City West Senior High School was launched into space with the International Space Station.

The experiment was submitted during the 2015-16 school year.

The students' experiment was launched from a NASA pad in a SpaceX unmanned Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday. The rocket will reach the space station Wednesday, delivering 5,500 pounds of food, clothes and experiments.

Traverse City Area Public Schools says with the help of their teacher, Patrick Gillespie, students Sam Church, Ryan Hayes, Hayden Holmes and Robert Lohr, designed an experiment about blue-green algae growth in space. Their experiment was selected by the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP) for Mission 9 to the International Space Station.

TCAPS says the students loaded minilabs with the algae. The blue-green algae was put into the capsule with water, a rock, and plant fertilizer for nutrients. A duplicate experiment will be kept on Earth. The students are testing the growth of blue-green algae to see if the growth changes when it is put into space. Blue-green algae produces hydrogen and oxygen which could be used to breathe and create fuel.

A total of 2,466 proposals were submitted by student teams to be considered for Mission 9 to the International Space Station. Of those, 21 were selected to be performed in space, including one from WSH. Two other experiments from WSH were selected as honorable mentions.

TCAPS says participation in the project was made possible through a $20,000 grant from the Michigan STEM Partnership.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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