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Space shuttle blasts off with Ballard High School experiment

Troy Cryder
An exhaust cloud forms around Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as space shuttle Endeavour soars into the sky. The shuttle is carrying a Ballard High School experiment.

The Space Shuttle Endeavor is headed to the International Space Station after a successful launch. On board is an experiment conducted by students in Seattle

A team from Ballard High School is cultivating E. Coli in space to see how it compares to bacteria on Earth.

It might sound like “weird science,” but astrophysicists say it’s definitely the real deal. The proposal had to be approved by a panel of scientists before it made it to the shuttle.

The students think putting E. Coli into space will increase its growth. First they tested their theory here on earth in anti-gravity simulators. Now they’ll get to see what happens when bacteria spends more than 2 weeks in orbit. 

After it returns from outer space, the students will perform all sorts of tests on it. Then they plan to freeze it so future classes can continue to study it. 

The opportunity is part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, a national project that helps students place experiments on the last flights of the Space Shuttle program.

Fifteen other middle and high schools from around the nation have experiments on Endeavor. Another 11 schools are expected to participate in the final mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis.  

Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.
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