Students have worked to develop space experiments all week and will watch them blast off on Thursday.

Student Experiments to be Launched into Space from Wallops Island

When most college students return to campus in the fall, they’ll probably talk about their summer job or a vacation they took. But a group of STEM students, who are spending this week on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, will have a story to tell to top them all.

At NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility, college students and faculty are in the midst of the RockOn 2024 workshop. NASA invites teams of three (two students and one faculty member) for a maximum of 28 teams, to participate in the workshop. They have been learning how to create a sounding rocket experiment from scratch over just five days, June 14-19. On Thursday, June 20, a real sounding rocket will be launched into space from Wallops Flight Facility, carrying the students’ experiments.

More than 50 student teams will get to send their experiments to space. Some are from the RockOn workshop and others built unique experiments at their colleges or universities under the RockSat-C program. These institutions include several in the Bay region, like Old Dominion University in Norfolk and the University of Delaware.

Even more special is one particular RockSat-C team, which includes the work of students who are just 11-18 years old from Virginia Beach. The Cubes in Space project allows these youngest students to design experiments that fit into small, clear plastic cubes. Up to 80 of these cube-contained experiments are carried in the nose cone of the rocket.

The launch window for the Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket carrying all the student experiments is June 20, 5:30- 9:30 a.m. For anyone who would like to see it launch, the Visitor Center viewing area will be open beginning at 4:30 a.m. You can also livestream the launch at this link.

The backup launch date is Friday, June 21.

NASA says programs like these are an investment in the future of the space industry. “RockOn provides students and faculty with authentic, hands-on experiences tied to an actual launch into space from a NASA facility,” said Chris Koehler, RockOn’s principal investigator. “These experiences are instrumental in the creation of our next STEM workforce.”