Student research launching to International Space Station

March 27, 2024

Midlands Technical College (MTC) has been selected as one of 37 communities to participate in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 18 that will send research work done by MTC students to the International Space Station (ISS). MTC is the first and only college in South Carolina chosen to participate in the SSEP.

Four students, a lab technician, and a faculty advisor will research how microgravity effects the production of calcium oxalate crystals in edible greens. The scientific study is important to long duration spaceflight as possible sources of nutrition that can be grown in space are considered. Calcium oxalate is produced in plants like spinach, and can lead to the formation of kidney stones, which form more easily in microgravity.

Winners were narrowed down a list of 42 students and 13 teams, representing all eight schools of study, that engaged with a 10-week research proposal development program in late 2023. The diverse group of participants from MTC includes:

• Craig Elliot – Associate in Arts in Psychology
• Robert Ferguson – Associate in Science in Biology
• Emmi Rosario – Bioengineering 2+2
• Will Turner – Associate in Arts in Psychology
• Kayioko Jenkins-Fisher – Science Lab Technician, Team Technical Support
• Jordi Fernandez – Faculty Advisor, Biology

This year, these MTC Mavericks will travel to Kennedy Space Center, Florida to watch their project blast into space. Once aboard the ISS, astronauts will operate the experiment over approximately six weeks. The experiment will then return to Earth, where the team will perform their analysis and compare the results to their control experiment that stayed on Earth. A few months later, the MTC team will have the opportunity to present their project, research, and findings at a conference typically held at the The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

In addition, MTC School of English and Humanities held a flight mission patch design competition, where all MTC students, faculty, and staff were challenged to design a mission patch similar to those traditionally worn by astronauts. MTC student Nelson Squire’s patch won the competition and will travel to the ISS with the research. Squire is a student in the Information Systems Technology Department in the School of STEM.


About the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (or SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with Nanoracks LLC, which is working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.


About Midlands Technical College

Midlands Technical College (MTC) is a six-campus, two-year comprehensive community college serving Richland, Lexington, and Fairfield counties in South Carolina. The college provides higher education opportunities that stimulate the local economy by generating a world-class workforce and enhancing the social vitality of the community. MIDLANDSTECH.EDU.