Girls from Ashford School in Kent with their Space Experiment
STS-47 was the 50th Space Shuttle mission of the program, as well as the second mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour. The mission mainly involved conducting experiments in life and material sciences.
Spacelab-J—a joint NASA and National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) mission using a manned Spacelab module—conducted microgravity investigations in materials and life sciences. The international crew, consisting of the first Japanese astronaut to fly aboard the Shuttle, the first African-American woman to fly in space and, contrary to normal NASA policy, the first married couple to fly on the same space mission (Lee and Davis), was divided into red and blue teams for around the clock operations. Spacelab-J included 24 materials science and 20 life sciences experiments, of which 35 were sponsored by NASDA, 7 by NASA and 2 collaborative efforts.
Materials science investigations covered such fields as biotechnology, electronic materials, fluid dynamics and transport phenomena, glasses and ceramics, metals and alloys, and acceleration measurements. Life sciences included experiments on human health, cell separation and biology, developmental biology, animal and human physiology and behavior, space radiation, and biological rhythms. Test subjects included the crew, Japanese koi fish (carp), cultured animal and plant cells, chicken embryos, fruit flies, fungi and plant seeds, and frogs and frog eggs.
Twelve Get Away Special (GAS) canisters (10 with experiments, 2 with ballast) were carried in the payload bay. Middeck experiments were: Israeli Space Agency Investigation About Hornets (ISAIAH), Solid Surface Combustion Experiment (SSCE), Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX II), Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS), and Ultraviolet Plume Imager (UVPI).
Amongst the GAS Cansisters was G-102 Sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America’s Exploring Division in cooperation with the TRW Systems Integration Group, Fairfax, Va. The project was named Project POSTAR which was the first space experiment created entirely by members of the Boy Scouts of America.
Also on board were two experiments prepared by Ashford School in Kent which, at the time, was a girls-only school. The school in the UK who had won a competition run by Independent Television News (ITN). The experiments were contained in G-520. The first one injected a few grams of cobalt nitrate crystals to a sodium silicate to create a chemical garden in weightless condition. The growths, which were photographed 66 times as they developed, spread out in random directions twisting and in some cases forming spiral shapes. A second experiment to investigate how Liesegang rings formed in space failed to operate correctly due to friction in parts of the mechanism. On its return the experiment was exhibited in the London Science Museum..
Watch Space Shuttle STS-47 Endeavour Spacelab-J pt1-2 Post Flight Press 1992 NASA
Watch Space Shuttle STS-47 Endeavour Spacelab-J pt2-2 Post Flight Press 1992 NASA
1985 Video – Ashford School for Girls win ITN Space Experiment Competition
1991 Video – ITN report on the Ashford School for Girls Space Experiment
1992 Video – ITN report on Ashford School Space Experiment exhibit at London Science Museum