Experiment of Kentucky high schoolers gets launched into space


Two Kentucky high school students will be monitoring a science experiment that is out of this world.

Will Casto and Danielle Gibson, both students at the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, a high school at Morehead State University, have sent a cell culturing biology experiment into space. The experiment was aboard a rocket launched Sunday as a part of a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, launched by SpaceX.

The experiment will allow Casto and Gibson to examine the behavior of smooth muscle cells as they acclimate to a microgravity environment.

Gibson said she felt great about her experiment being aboard the historic rocket launch, which was SpaceX’s first launch from Florida since a rocket explosion last summer.

“I think we’re both pretty excited,” she said. “It’s really crazy that … Will and I are sending an experiment up to the International Space Station.”

Casto said he was hoping the experiment comes back with positive results. He and Gibson are inaugural members of the Craft Academy.

“We’re trying to set a foundation for our academy,” he said.

The two students will be able to access a live video feed of their experiment and near real-time data from their experiment.

The experiment could provide a better understanding of cellular processes and, potentially, help people prevent hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

The International Space Station is expected to receive the experiment Wednesday morning, according to SpaceX’s twitter account. The experiment will stay in space for a minimum of six weeks, Gibson and Casto said.

Both students were at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center when the rocket was launched about 9:40 a.m. Sunday. The flight had been scheduled for Saturday but was postponed.

A webcast about the launch is available here.