By Dillon Thomas
LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Less than two weeks after Coloradans helped land a predominantly Colorado-built spacecraft on the surface of Mars, high school students in Lakewood prepared to send one of their projects to space, as well.
Teenagers in Lakewood, some of whom still attend Lakewood High School, developed a device that could be the solution to growing food in space. Their invention would use misting to get proper water supply to plants, in an outer space atmosphere, which does not properly distribute water to seeds and roots.
Because they won a competition through the Center for Advancement of Science In Space, sponsored in-part by comic company Marvel, students have prepared their invention for launch to space on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
“It is unreal,” said Katee Harrington, a 16-year-old student who helped develop the invention. “There’s definitely some nerves that come along with it.”
By creating a device which could mist vegetables in a controlled environment, students hoped it would make farming more likely in space. And, as a result, it would allow humans to travel further in to space, without having to carry their entire supply of food from the start.
“We need to be able to grow our own food. Because, we can’t necessarily bring all the food we need on a mission,” said Stella Meillon, a 16-year-old student.
Meillon, and Harrington, are two of the five students who helped develop the idea. Some of the designers have, since, gone on to college.
“It’s unbelievable that, at such a young age, I have been able to have something that is successful,” Harrington said.
“It is amazing. I don’t think I ever thought I would have this opportunity, as a high school student, to be able to send something to space, and watch it develop,” Meillon said. “And, to watch all my hard work, and effort, and the effort of my team, go in to something productive, and that could potentially be used in future space missions.”
The invention will operate for 28 days on the international space station. Every 30 minutes, a photo will be taken of the progress of their seeds.
Both Harrington, and Meillon, said their involvement in the invention of this project has inspired them to consider engineering for their future. Both said the project would be a success, even if it failed to grow food properly. They said a failed attempt to grow the vegetables would help humans eliminate one more option of food growth, inching closer toward a resolution.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.