Stockton Project Launches to Space

Stockton students and Peter Straub
Stockton students and Peter Straub, dean of the School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, awaited the launch of their experiment into space at Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Aug. 14.

Two Stockton University students are ready to find out if the experiment they designed on Earth will work on the International Space Station (ISS).

Long-term space travel and the need for astronauts to sustain their food supply in space led Stockton University students Danielle Ertz of Woodlynne, N.J. and Valkyrie Falciani of Hammonton, N.J. with faculty mentor Tara Luke, associate professor of Biology, to develop an experiment that studies fungus as a potential force for improving agriculture in space.

Stockton University students Valkyrie Falciani and Danielle Ertz
Students Valkyrie Falciani and Danielle Ertz prepare their experiment for the Mission 11 Student Spaceflight launch to the International Space Station  in August.

The project was accepted by the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program and successfully launched at 12:31 p.m., Aug. 14, from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on the SpaceX-CRS-12. The capsule containing the project docked at the ISS at 6:52 a.m. on August 16.

The students and Luke were in for Florida along with Peter Straub, dean of the School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, and Norma Boakes, associate professor of Education, to watch the launch.

Their experiment uses a mycorrhizal fungus species and flax. Flax was chosen because its seeds are edible, the plant can be used to make cloth, its extensive taproot system allows growth in limited space and it is proven to grow in space.

The experiment consists of a fluid mixing enclosure (FME) mini-lab that will hold enough water, fungi spores and flax seed to grow for four to six weeks on the International Space Station (ISS). The same experiment will be conducted on Earth simultaneously as a scientific ground truth for later comparison.

The Stockton Student Spaceflight Experiments Project has been selected for Mission 12, starting this fall through spring of next year.  Learn more here.