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Science Experiment By South Jersey College Student Grows Aboard NASA SpaceX Flight

The first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being returned to Cape Canaveral, Fla. on June 2. A fourth Falcon 9 flight by NASA on Saturday will carry a science experiment designed by a South Jersey college student.
The first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being returned to Cape Canaveral, Fla. on June 2. A fourth Falcon 9 flight by NASA on Saturday will carry a science experiment designed by a South Jersey college student. Photo Credit: SpaceX via Twitter

10-9-87-6-5-4-3-2-1. New Jersey snow peas are blasting into international space.

Saturday's fourth voyage of a Falcon 9 rocket will carry a science experiment designed by a college freshman from South Jersey.

Sophia Bradach of Point Pleasant, who is a freshman at Stockton University in Atlantic County, created an experiment that is set for launch to the International Space Station.

Bradach, an environmental science major from Ocean County, wants to determine whether snow peas are capable of self-fertilization through nitrogen fixation while subjected to microgravity, according to a news release from the university in Galloway Township.

The experiment may determine whether astronauts can grow food in a limited space without cumbersome bags of fertilizer.

Two test tubes are involved in the experiment. One will be sent to space, and the other will remain on Earth. When the mission is completed, the rates of nitrogen fixation in both environments will be observed and compared.

NASA and SpaceX were making final preparations on Friday for a cargo mission that will carry nearly three metric tons of supplies to the International Space Station.

This "CRS-21" mission is the 21st cargo supply mission that SpaceX will launch for NASA overall. But it is the first under a new supply contract that runs through 2024, and this will be the first to use an upgraded "Cargo Dragon 2" vehicle to ferry food, water, science experiments, and other materials to the orbiting laboratory.

Peter Straub, dean of Stockton University’s School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is working with Bradach. The freshman caller her experiment “the perfect combo of my interests and has helped me to combine my passions and studies.”

Bradach used the greenhouse at Stockton’s Unified Science Center as a lab as she readied the test tube. Working in the university greenhouse, Bradach said she was in her element. “My room is half plants. It makes me happy when I come home,” she said.

Bradach said she aims to pursue a career in environmental remediation to decontaminate Superfund sites.

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