Christer Fuglesang

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Christer Fuglesang, Space Shuttle Mission STS-116 mission specialist, participates in extravehicular activity (EVA) as part of construction of the International Space Station, December 14, 2006. CLICK TO ZOOM AND FEEL THE MAGIC (Photocredit: NASA)


As was the case with prior SSEP missions, given we are in the midst of Mission 9 to ISS, we thought it would be a good time to share this video by Bruce Berry. It is a gift from past astronauts aboard the International Space Station who captured our world from orbit in stunning detail. We wanted to share this with the 13,500 Mission 9 student researchers, teachers, and extended community in each of the 22 Mission 9 to ISS communities now working on experiment design, with selection of their flight experiments in mid-December 2015. We also wanted to reaffirm to the Mission 6, 7, and 8 communities that we are all part of a remarkable adventure on the high frontier.

What adventure? Maybe we should start with a summary of recent and upcoming SSEP flight operations. We promised real spaceflight all the time … and, well, here you go –

Mission 6:
The SSEP Mission 6 to ISS Yankee Clipper payload of 18 experiments was lost with the explosion of the Orb-3 rocket on October 28, 2014. Our SSEP delegation of 130 students, teachers, administrators, and parents were watching just 1.7 miles away from Pad 0-A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional spaceport (MARS), adjoining NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA. Read about our you-were-there experience.

The re-flight payload of 17 of the 18 experiments as Yankee Clipper II was launched on the SpaceX-5 rocket, January 10, 2015, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, adjoining NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Yankee Clipper II was operated on orbit by Space Station Commander Barry Wilmore, and returned to Earth on February 10, 2015 aboard SpaceX-5, splashing down in the Pacific off the California coast. A number of Mission 6 student flight teams reported findings at the 2015 SSEP National Conference at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, July 2-3, 2015.

The 18th Mission 6 experiment from North Charleston, South Carolina, was not ready for re-flight with Yankee Clipper II, and was moved to the Mission 7 Odyssey payload.

Mission 7:
The 25 experiments of the Odyssey payload were launched on SpaceX-7 on June 28, 2015, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. Again we had over 100 SSEP delegates down to watch the launch. About 2.5 minutes into ascent, the rocket exploded with the loss of the Dragon spacecraft and all cargo. After the explosion, we gathered the SSEP delegates in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex auditorium, and told them what we had told the Mission 6 teams just eight months earlier – in the real world, failure happens and what we do in the face of failure defines who we are. Space is hard, and if they were willing and able to step to the plate, we would re-fly all lost experiments as Odyssey II. The North Charleston Team even addressed the audience, consoling the M7 student researchers – they had now lost their experiment twice. We could not have been more proud of the young student researchers in that room and around the nation that were dealing with the loss of their work.

Of special note, the North Charleston team was the subject of significant national media attention, see the Mission 6 In the News page. [Coming attractions – on this blog next week we will be showcasing a NanoRacks set of blog posts on the North Charleston Team.]

As the accident investigation board was working to assess the cause of the vehicle loss, and the pathway to return-to-flight (see this July 20, 2015, Investigation Update at SpaceX), like the Mission 6 flight teams before them, our Mission 7 teams pushed through their loss, and with new mini-labs from NanoRacks, are now waiting to reconstitute their experiments and ship them to Houston for payload integration. We are now in pre-flight operations for the launch of the Mission 7 to ISS Odyssey II payload of 25 experiments, to launch on SpaceX-8 from the Cape, hopefully in the December 2015 / January 2016 time frame.

Mision 8:
The Mission 8 Step 2 National Review Board was convened at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on May 19, 2015, with 20 reviewers selecting the flight experiment for each of the Mission 8 communities. These experiments are currently in 4 months of NASA Flight Safety Review with the Toxicology Office at Johnson Space Center in Houston. We are now also formally in pre-flight operations for the Kitty Hawk payload of 15 experiments to launch on SpaceX-9 from the Cape.

Now for the video –

The video below can truly be considered a gift to the human race. Only in the last 60 years has our technology allowed us to venture forth from this world, and see it from the solemnity of space. Countless human generations never got to see what you are about to see – the nature of our existence.

The United States and its international partners have constructed the International Space Station, arguably one of the most complex machines ever built, and the largest spacecraft ever constructed. It provides a permanent human presence in space, and serves as an outpost from which we can look down on our world in reverence and in awe. And in that moment we see pride in ourselves, for the human need to explore has taken us to this high frontier. That need to explore is seen in our children, and threads through our lives. It is what propels the scientist and engineer. And it is what propels communities to undertake SSEP – so that our children can be immersed in journey.

Right now Mission 7 student flight experiment teams are getting ready for the launch of their experiments on SpaceX-8, destined for the International Space Station. Consider where those experiments are heading, to a vehicle traveling through space at 17,000 miles per hour (4.7 miles per second) at an altitude of 260 miles above Earth’s surface – 47 times higher than Mt. Everest.

To the thousands of Mission 9 students and teachers, we invite you to recognize that you are part of this adventure, project the video below on a screen in your classrooms (and boardrooms for the SSEP funding organizations), turn down the lights, turn up the volume, and savor what we humans have done.

Time-Lapse EARTH is a video created by Bruce Berry, Jr., from footage taken by the astronauts on the International Space Station. Found below are Bruce’s notes on the making of the video. See more of Bruce’s work at http://bruce-wayne-photography.com

Time-Lapse | Earth from Bruce W. Berry Jr on Vimeo.


To Teachers:
This video can be put to work as a teachable moment in classrooms. It touches on history, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the human condition – all expressed through an artistry that combines moving images and music.

Have the class watch the video a few times and identify the atmosphere, storms, lightning, land masses, oceans, and cities.

Have students leave a comment below on their thoughts after seeing this video.

Notes from the artist:
All Time-lapse sequences were taken by the astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) (Thanks guys for making this available to the public for use!) All footage has been color graded, denoised, deflickered, slowed down and stabilized by myself. Clips were then complied and converted to 1080 HD at 24 frames/sec.

Hope you all enjoy it and thanks for watching!

P.S. It would be a dream to actually be up there in the ISS. Btw NASA, if you need a Biochemistry Ph.D. to do some work for you up there, I’m your man, LOL!

Music: “Manhatta” composed & performed by “The Cinematic Orchestra”

All rights reserved to their respective owners.
Edited by: Bruce W. Berry @ Website: http://bruce-wayne-photography.com

Image Courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory
NASA Johnson Space Center, The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

Footage Note: The slower video represents a closer resemblance to the true speed of the International Space Station; this footage was shot at one frame per second. Clips are all marked with an *.

Locations of Footage in the order they appear:
1. A Jump over the Terminator
2. Sarychev Volcano
3. From Turkey to Iran*
4. Hurricane Irene Hits the US
5. Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean Through the Cupola*
6. Central Great Plains at Night*
7. Aurora Borealis over the North Atlantic Ocean*
8. Aurora Borealis from Central U.S.*
9. Up the East Coast of North America*
10. Myanmar to Malaysia*
11. Western Europe to Central India
12. Middle East to the South Pacific Ocean
13. Aurora Borealis over Europe*
14. City Lights over Middle East*
15. European City Lights*
16. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night
17. Moonglow over Canada and Northern U.S.*
18. Stars from the Pacific Ocean (1)
19. Stars from the Pacific Ocean (2)
20. Stars from the Pacific Ocean (3)
21. Stars and the Milky Way over the Atlantic*
22. The Milky Way and Storms over Africa (1)
23. The Milky Way and Storms over Africa (2)


The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with NanoRacks LLC, working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space MuseumCenter for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc., are U.S. National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Magellan Aerospace is a Canadian National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

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