2021-2022 was an extraordinary period for Magnitude.io filled with both promise and uncertainty. While the pandemic was raging, our work continued on. Great partners helped us redefine what these moments meant for learners around the world.
ExoLab-9 launched aboard the SpaceX-23 cargo resupply spacecraft on 29 August 2021 along with 2,200 kg of payload to the International Space Station. ExoLab-9 carried Trifolium pratense (red clover) with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria Rhizobia leguminosarum for the second time in hopes to witness the elusive nodulation we’ve been seeking with legumes in microgravity.
In parallel with the launch, in Australia we partnered with Fizzics Education and the NSW Department of Education’s SISP program to rethink what it meant to be ‘locked in” or “stuck inside”. The Australian Virtual Astronaut (AVA) Challenge was born. Now in it’s third year, the “go-at-your-own-pace” program runs through December!
Near the end of 2021, Magnitude collaborated with SensXAfrica, and the United Nations to extend the ExoLab experience in Africa through the Opportunities for Youth in Africa (OYA). Now in Year 4, the OYA project is a collaboration between the industry (UNIDO) and agriculture (FAO) arms of the United Nations. With a focus on agribusiness, entrepreneurialism, precision agriculture, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), Magnitude prepared new and returning students from Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia for ExoLab-10 which would launch at the end of 2022.
The start to 2022 was a difficult one with the loss of our co-founder Tony So at the end of January. Although Tony is not here to celebrate with us, we remember his kind and curious nature through the So Fun Scholarship. Applications open on 21 June for the next scholar submissions.
With our work on AVA and a mutual connection to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the Waite Institute at the University of Adelaide joined for the ExoLab-10 mission. The Waite Institute leads a AUD $35 million 7-year project called Plants for Space (P4S). We look forward to the continued collaboration in education outreach with ExoLab-11 in 2024.
By June, the end of Year 9 had us preparing for the ExoLab-10 mission scheduled for October (which later moved several times!).