#Asia Space tempeh: Indonesian high schoolers join forces with NASA to send rice, yeast to ISS

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The project aims to research the growth of yeast and rice in zero gravity

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Today, NASA’s Atlas 5 rocket launched out of Cape Canaveral, Florida, at around 12pm SGT (11pm local time) to carry the cargo freighter Cygnus to the International Space Station. Inside the cargo are two sets of scientific experiments —containing yeast and rice — prepared by a group of high school students from Indonesia.

Set in the form of micro-labs, the two experiments aim to research how rice and yeast grow in zero gravity conditions.

The first part of the experiments was prepared by a group of high school students from Unggul Del di Laguboti High School in Laguboti, North Sumatera, while the second part is prepared by a joint group of high school students from various schools in Jakarta, Bandung, and Jayapura. Each team consisted of ten students accompanied by two teachers.

JW Saputro of Indonesia Space Research Group spoke to Viva about the details of the project.

“Within minutes, the Atlas rocket will carry Cygnus to the ISS. After that, it will take days to direct Cygnus to find the right docking with ISS. The astronauts living in ISS will move the experiments to Nanoracks, a research facility in the US’s National Lab inside [the] ISS,” he said.

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The project is six months in the making and last January, the micro-labs successfully passed NASA’s strict flight test and received permission to be included in the launch.

The micro-lab units are completed with digital cameras, sensors, and micro-controllers. In the coming days, students in Laguboti, Jakarta, Bandung, and Jayapura will be able to monitor and record the results of their experiment.

Saputro also said the students will present their research in the Annual Conference of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research, held in November in Washington, D.C.

According to a report by RRI Voice of Indonesia, the Indonesia Transformation Network (the programme led by Saputro) took five weeks of lobbying NASA to land a slot for the experiment.

The project costed at least IDR200 millions (US$15,000) with a waiver from NASA, a considerably small sum for sending goods to space.

Consider your tempeh and nasi goreng supply sorted when one day we get the chance to move to Mars.

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Image Credit: NASA on Unsplash.com

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