Student Experiment Launched to International Space Station

August | 2017

​Alexa Durand and Brenda Shen's project was successfully launched on August 14, 2017 destined for the International Space Station (ISS). The experiment was part of the Student SpaceFlight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 11 payload to the ISS that launch successfully on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, adjoining the Kennedy Space Center at 9:31AM PT.  The procedure will be conducted by astronauts aboard the ISS with the subsequent data analysis being performed by the students.

These Grade 12 students from Riverside Secondary School, Coquitlam, British Columbia, were selected as SSEP finalists of the in November 2016 for their project proposal titled "The effect of microgravity on concrete used in building structures".  The experiment will study how fly ash concrete performs in microgravity and determine if there are any changes in the density, compression and tensile strength compared to fly ash concrete cured on earth. Concrete is typically composed of cement, water, and aggregate (rock sand, or gravel). The fly ash concrete that will be utilized in this experiment replaces 25 percent of the cement component with fly ash. Fly ash is a by product of coal combustion and the use of fly ash in concrete allows this by product to be reused instead of being released into the atmosphere or placed in landfills. Fly ash concrete is proven on earth to have many benefits including greater strength, durability, and increased workability over time. This research may not only be helpful in future buildings in microgravity situations but may also provide valuable information that may aid construction practices on earth.

"Words cannot express how honouring it felt to be chosen. Brenda and I have put a lot of work into this project, we have learned many new skills during this experience, and I am very excited so see what comes next in this journey,"  - Alexa Durand.

 "Having our project selected to go to the ISS is a huge deal for us! Considering the amount of time and work we put in, it's a great feeling knowing that it all paid off and that our experiment could potentially have an impact in future space endeavours,"  - Brenda Shen. 

"I am so incredibly proud of Brenda and Alexa. Their experiment is both original and scientifically rigorous, and they spent many hours researching microgravity and conducting experiments on earth with fly ash concrete to help form their hypothesis," - Devon Ross, project mentor and Science Fair advocate.

More details >