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Sumter 'space girls' to send experiment into space

After months of preparation, four Sumter sixth graders were chosen to have their experiment sent into space.

SUMTER, S.C. — To commemorate the historic Apollo 11 flight to the moon, students across the country participated in a competition to make their own bit of space history. 

It's called the Students Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) and is designed to give students hands-on research experience through microgravity experiment design. 

Since September of 2019, students at Alice Drive Middle School in Sumter have been preparing for the most recent challenge through the program.

On Thursday, four sixth graders from the school were chosen to have their experiment take flight. 

Anna Alan, Katelyn Makowske, Addie Griffin, and Mary Carter Smith are known as the "space girls" among their peers.

Their project is a bit complex, but Alan tried to simplify it. 

"Basically, we're going to send the brine shrimp or a different hybrid of sea monkeys into space in a space shuttle and we're going to see if space affects how fast they grow," Alan said.

The goal is to study the possibility for sustaining life on planets outside of Earth. 

"We have had real talks about people going up and colonizing on the moon and even Mars and if they're going to do that, they might maybe talk about reproduction up there," Makowske said. "This is going to see if there's any dangers with that."

Although it hasn't been easy, it has been well worth the challenge for the all-female team.

"Hopefully we inspire some of ...the elementary school girls that they can do anything if they put their minds to it," Alan said. "We're just as good as anybody else."

The project is expected to take flight on the International Space Station sometime this year.