High school students from the United States and Ukraine and astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Columbia will perform plant science experiments during NASA's STS-87 mission. While the students construct simulated flight hardware and study plant growth, pollination and fertilization of the Brassica rapa plant in their classrooms, the same plant investigation will take place in the microgravity environment aboard the Shuttle.

The educational activities, a significant component of the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment (CUE) payload, are known as Teachers and Students Investigating Plants in Space, or CUE-TSIPS.

Until recently, plants grown in space from seeds failed to produce new seeds. Astronaut Michael Foale, aboard the Russian space station Mir, used a new technique with a dead bee glued to the end of a toothpick to pollinate plants and successfully produced the first seed-to-seed experiment in microgravity. That same technique will be replicated on the Shuttle during the STS-87 mission and in schools across the United States and Ukraine.

On Dec. 1, as part of the STS-87 mission events, Ukrainian students and American students will participate in 30-minute downlink sessions from the Shuttle, at 5:36 a.m. EST and at 9:46 a.m. EST, respectively. Crew members will answer student questions and explain how microgravity affects virtually every aspect of plant growth.

On Dec. 8, after the STS-87 mission has ended, NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin will visit students at the Grissom Middle School in Tinley Park, IL, to participate in a post-mission discussion and bring to a conclusion the nationwide CUE-TSIPS project.

The CUE mission carries the first cooperative scientific payload between NASA and the National Space Agency of Ukraine. Colonel Leonid Kadenyuk, the primary payload specialist and first Ukrainian to fly aboard a U.S. Space Shuttle, will perform the experiment procedures that will be simulated in classrooms.

Additional information about the CUE-TSIPS project can be found on the Internet at the following URL:


Comparison of Shuttle and classroom results will continue after the mission and also can be found at the URL listed above.

CUE-TSIPS is sponsored by NASA Headquarter's Life Sciences Division and Education Division.

Return to ISPEC News || ISPEC News Archive