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Mission discovery: launching next generation of young scientists

Each year King’s College London hosts the  Mission Discovery  programme aimed at encouraging young people’s interest in science, research and space.

The week-long educational programme is run by the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) in partnership with the  Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences (CHAPS) at King’s and involves NASA astronauts.  Dr Julie Keeble  from CHAPS supervises the students who are between 14-18 years old during the programme, and oversees the experiments.

This truly is a unique and exciting experience for the next generation of young scientists – Professor Stephen Harridge, Director, Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences

Working in teams, students take on the role of research scientists to create a biomedical science experiment.  The experiments are conceived and designed by the students and are honed and refined under the direction of Dr Keeble.

The final ideas are then presented to a board of judges with the winning experiment built by King’s and NASA, and eventually launched into space to be carried out by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.


The Mission Discovery programme has been running at King’s since 2012, and so far seven experiments have been launched to the International Space Station.

The latest experiments, recently launched in February this year, range from seeing how microbes feeding on waste matter might provide a novel source of power, to evaluating the possibility of cacti removing carbon dioxide from the space craft environment.

More information about the programme and how to apply is available  here.