Team prepares ALS experiment for launch

In preparation for the ALS experiment to be launched to the ISS, the team of student researchers at the school have begun to do a practice run of the experiment that will soon take place in outer space, while continuing to spread the word about ways to support the ALS community.

They performed their first test Monday during club.

First, they got a tube that looks similar to a glow stick called a Fluid Mixing Enclosure and put two tiny glass vials inside, one with papain in it, and the other with ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C. On the outside of the model lays the gelatin. Then, they snapped one end to release the papain into the gelatin, starting the reaction. They will let it run for three days, and then the other vial will be snapped, releasing the Ascorbic acid, stopping the reaction.

“Right now we’re just practicing and we make sure everything works, make sure our numbers are good, make sure the amounts and concentrations are good, that everything is good,” science teacher Amy McCormick said.

Team members say they’ve already loaded two, which are sitting in a refrigerator. They want to wait a little bit before they snap them, since they’ll have to sit for a long while.

“First we have to ship them to Houston, Houston has to ship them to the Cape, they sit on the launch pad for a while, then they get taken to ISS. So they do a lot of sitting around. We want to give it some time, make sure everything’s good before we actually go ahead and crack them,” McCormick said.

The final date of real launching of the experiment has been set, although McCormick is not sure if it is subject to change.

“As long as they don’t change it, it’s going to be Nov. 11 possibly set at 11 a.m. I’m pretty sure. It still says the time is TBA, but if you look at the countdown clock it’s set at 11. So maybe it’ll be 11/11 at 11. That would be really really cool,” she said.

By Ashleigh Rabel