The Girls Scouts will soon have a presence aboard the International Space Station. Unfortunately for the astronauts who may be missing Thin Mints or wanting to try the new Adventurefuls, cookies are not on the manifest. 

What You Need To Know

  • Girl Scouts held a competition to fly experiments to the Space Station.

  • Their science experiments will last 30 days aboard the ISS.

  • The initiative Making Space for Girls is designed to help inspire young women to pursue careers in the STEM fields.

Part of the science launching to the orbiting lab will include a trio of experiments officially dubbed Faraday-Girl Scouts-1, according to NASA.

The project has its roots in the 2019 initiative Making Space for Girls (MS4G), a partnership between two nonprofits: Winter Park-based SpaceKids Global and Orlando-based Girl Scouts of Citrus Council.

That partnership turned into a 2020 challenge of three categories: designing a Making Space for Girls Mission Patch, the My Space Dreams essay contest and the Girl Scouts in Space challenge. The last one was to come up with ideas for sending an experiment to the ISS in a Faraday Box donated by ProxOps.

Among the winners of the experiment competition was Evie Martell, a member of the South Carolina-based Hornets' Nest Council. She and her family decided to make a family vacation out of the launch opportunity and planned a trip around the original launch date: Aug. 18. 

The launch was pushed back 10 days, but they still got the opportunity to briefly visit Kennedy Space Center and get a look at where her experiment will fly to the Space Station: Launch Complex 39A.

Her experiment focuses on brine shrimp, small organisms know by the popularized version called “sea monkeys.” She will be watching their growth.

“How much they grew so that we can see how long it would take for them to grow to an eating size,” said Martell.

The last time Martell was here, she was in a stroller watching the second to last space shuttle mission with her mom, Stephanie.

Plants, ants and brine shrimp

The three winning Girl Scout experiments will study ant colonization, plant growth and the lifecycle of brine shrimp. Brine shrimp have previously made trips to space both aboard the Apollo 16 mission and on Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1991. 

For the astronauts aboard the ISS, the work is simple. They just need to take the Faraday Research Facility into an EXPRESS rack (Expedite the Processing of Experiments to the space station). From there, the experiment will be controlled by the Faraday Payload Operations Control Center (POCC) in Houston, Texas.

At the same time, the Girl Scouts will have the control experiment on Earth and will compare them against their orbiting counterparts. They will have the bonus reward of receiving their Citizen Scientist Badge for tracking this science.

The experiments are set to fun for 30 days.

These experiments are also being supported by both NASA and the ISS National Laboratory based in Melbourne. The National Lab is also backing a series of six other student experiments as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

As a part of that cluster, a group of 10th grade students from Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School in Pharr, Texas, is also conducing an experiment on brine shrimp (known by the scientific name Artemia salina.

Florida will also be represented by group of 5th grade students from Sheehy Elementary School in Hillsborough County who will be studying the germination rates and growth of German Chamomile seeds. 

This experiment is important because, as NASA notes, there is “limited published research about growing herbs in space; German Chamomile is a candidate plant that has medicinal properties that may help with health problems such as depression, insomnia, pain, digestive problems and inflammation mental and physical health.”

Other science flying to the International Space Station

The country of Malta will be launching its first science experiment to the orbiting lab. The Ice Cubes #9 – SpaceOMIX investigation will examine a microbiome of skin samples from Type 2 Diabetic patients to determine how they adapat and change based on their environment.

The University of Malta noted that Malta has one of the highest levels of Type 2 Diabetes in Europe and that this research could help those with diabetic foot ulcers.

Another experiment, Materials International Space Station Experiment-15-NASA (MISSE-15-NASA), will test a variety of materials to learn how they behave in low-Earth orbit. Some of those include radiation protection materials, concrete and thin-film solar cells.

The Space Station will also receive a new robotic arm designed by GITAI Japan Inc. that can help run scientific experiments. The first of its kind was delivered earlier this year when the Russian module Nauka launched.

CRS-23 launch

All of these science experiments and plenty more will launch aboard a SpaceX Cargo Dragon capsule, which will dock with the ISS at the forward-facing port of the Harmony module. 

Crew Dragon Endeavor moved from that spot to the space-facing port on July 21, initially to make room for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule. 

The Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-23) mission is scheduled to launch on Saturday, August 28 at 3:37 a.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center.

The launch is instantaneous, so if for some reason it’s unable to launch on Saturday, SpaceX said a backup launch opportunity will be Sunday morning at 3:14 a.m. EDT. 

The 45th Weather Squadron issued a launch forecast on Friday with a 60% chance of violating weather constraints. It notes that Tropical Storm Ida will "usher in plentiful mid and upper level moisture over the Florida peninsula." They note a "similar pattern" on Sunday, "but with a lower probability of violation."

The Dragon making the trip to the Space Station was there last year as a part of the CRS-21 mission. It launched on Sunday, December 6 and docked with the Space Station on December 7. 

This was also the first time SpaceX flew the updated version of Dragon, which “is capable of carrying about 20% more volume than the previous version of Dragon and has double the amount of powered locker cargo capability.”

SpaceX noted at the time that these Dragon capsules are “designed for up to five flights to and from the Space Station.”

Saturday’s flight will be the second for this Dragon.

It will be supported by a Falcon 9 first stage booster that launched both Crew-1 and Crew-2 missions to the ISS as well as the launch of SXM-8.

The launch will also mark the Atlantic debut of SpaceX’s latest drone ship, “A Shortfall of Gravitas.” It will be the landing site of the B1061-4 booster.

Spectrum News will have live launch coverage of the CRS-23 mission launch and docking to the Space Station.