Student-driven ExoLab-8 experiment launching on NG-15


Taking distance learning to the International Space Station Orbital Classroom along with an Astro_moji Teacher

(BERKELEY, California) ‒ CEO Ted Tagami announced today that its student-driven ExoLab-8 plant experiment will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than February 20 as part of the NG-15 Cargo Resupply Mission from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

With the shift to distance learning as a result of the pandemic, expanded participation in this mission to enable thousands of students, educators, and citizen scientists from around the globe to participate from a kitchen or a classroom with this hands-on STEM experience. 

Tagami remarked, “We are taking distance learning to a whole new level: 250 miles above the Earth to an orbital classroom. While the pandemic disrupted many learning experiences, our mission participants will remember 2021 as the year that they went to space. The clover seed may be small, but the impact on lives will be significant through this authentic research opportunity and virtual field trip to the ISS led by an Astro_moji teacher.”

The ExoLab-8 experiment loaded in the Space Tango CubeLab (photo credit: Space Tango).

Through a partnership between and Bitmoji, @Astro_moji engages students and teachers through the use of Bitmoji stickers. Linwood Elementary Technology Teacher Lisa Turney from Linwood, Kansas was selected as the ExoLab-8 @Astro_moji Mission Specialist and will teach students from space through her virtual likeness on the CubeLab containing the experiment.

“Bitmoji is thrilled to join in their mission to fuel exploration and discovery in the classroom. Through this partnership, we’re able to expand our efforts in the education world, and truly take educator Lisa Turney to new heights as the first avatar to go to space,” commented a Bitmoji representative. 

Assembly of the ExoLab-8 experiment. in the CubeLab. Photo Credit: Space Tango

As a demonstration project, the science goal of the mission is to achieve root nodulation on the legume red clover by nitrogen-fixing Rhizobia bacteria for the first time in the microgravity environment of the ISS. The experiment relies on an autonomous system within a 4U Space Tango CubeLab that initiates germination, facilitates plant growth, and fixes the plants while in orbit. 

Mission participants, including students from kindergarten to college level, will grow red clover plants at home and in classrooms as part of the ground control experiment and compare growth in microgravity vs. the 1G environment of Earth. Using the Magnitude Classroom for this virtual field trip experience to the ISS, mission participants will access NGSS-aligned STEM content and analyze data and images of the flight experiment while it’s on station.

Red clover seeds and symbiotic rhizobia bacteria are headed to space. Photo credit: Space Tango

In collaboration with Space Tango, a company enabling R&D and manufacturing in space, and the ISS U.S. National Laboratory,’s award-winning ExoLab dramatically extends reach to enable student participation in a space mission at a fraction of the typical cost. ExoLab-8 is’s eighth mission to the ISS with Space Tango, beginning with ExoLab-1 in February 2017. As a founding member of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (manager of the ISS National Lab) Space Station Explorers consortium, is a leader in offering stellar STEM experiences through engaging and fun project-based learning experiences for students of all ages. 

### is a leading aerospace technology company that cultivates generations of brilliant scientists, engineers, and leaders through stellar STEM experiences igniting curiosity, inquiry, and ingenuity. With project-based learning, K-12 students engage in NGSS-aligned lessons and authentic research through CanSat atmospheric investigations, ExoLab life sciences experiments aboard the International Space Station, and capstone high altitude balloon and rocketry programs.

From "K to Gray", can develop a bespoke interplanetary experience for your country, state, or district. Schedule time with us to discuss how we might help foster capabilities and skills for the next generation on Earth and Beyond for deployment in 2024/25. View some of our projects.

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