PORTLAND, Ore. – Students at Portland State University are getting as close to space as they can get without actually putting on space suits.
A group of students is preparing to send an experiment to the International Space Station. A commercially-owned rocket will deliver it.
The group worked on a model to test how liquids behave in zero gravity.
PSU student William Blackmore is tracking the space station in real time. He and his fellow students will send their work into space on Sunday.
“It’s about 250 miles up traveling about 17,000 miles per hour,” said Blackmore.
The students will then talk with U.S. astronauts, who will help them with their research.
“To have direct feedback with an astronaut who is really like another member of the team for us,” Blackmore said.
A large contraption called a Drop Tower allows them to do as much research as they can here on Earth. The Drop Tower suspends objects in the air – gravity-free – for 2 seconds. A camera captures the results inside the tower.
PSU is one of a few universities across the country that has a connection with NASA.
The latest experiment will be the 50th that PSU students have sent into space, but the first shipment by a private company since NASA retired its shuttle program in July.
The launch is scheduled for 5:30 a.m. pacific time on Sunday. The rocket should take between one and two days to reach the space station.
Blackmore says programs like this one are the future of space exploration.
“Having so many aspects and branches of where the space programs can go in the public and private sector really just opens opportunities for seeing where we can go.”