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University of Puerto Rico Announces August 11th as the Launch Date for Their NASA Mission to Look for Life in Space – XEI Reports

XEI Scientific Inc. reports the August 11th launch date for RockSat-X, the culmination of an exciting collaboration between students from the University of Puerto Rico and NASA to look for evidence of life in space.

Left image: The UPR payload on the test bench; the XEI Evactron ES decontaminator is on the right. Right image: The Evactron ES on test – plasma glowing pink on ignition.

RockSat-X project spokesman, Alexis Oquendo-Reyes, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Puerto Rico, UPR, has just released the news of the launch date and plans for his group's mission into space to look at the atmosphere for signs of life. Lift off is scheduled for Tuesday 11th August from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

This is the fifth time that students from the University of Puerto Rico are going in to space. Oscar Resto, UPR Principal Investigator, is very pleased to see that his UPR team has had a project selected to be flown as part of the RockSat-X educational project. Designed to provide students hands-on experience in designing, fabricating, testing and conducting experiments for space flight, the project is a national program sponsored by NASA and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

During this month's flight, the payload will deploy a sterilized collection system into the space environment which is later retracted and sealed before re-entry. The payload contains organic polymer collectors that will gather amino acids, proteins and DNA to “potentially prove the presence of life at 43 to 100 miles above Earth.” The micro-particles will be analyzed via next-generation genomics.

With the launch just days away, Alexis discusses the mission. “The main difference between this year's mission and those gone before is that the payload will incorporate procedures for mitigating cross-contamination. Since we will be collecting organic samples, we need to make sure that these samples are from outer space and not from the Earth. So, in this experiment, the main method of decontamination will be the use of air plasma with the Evactron® ES Decontaminator from XEI. We will also be measuring temperature (and possibly pressure) changes throughout the flight and recording the flight in high definition.”

The Evactron® ES Decontamination System is a product from XEI Scientific, an established US instrument supplier based in Redwood City, CA. With the launch fast approaching, Vice President of Worldwide Sales, Dan Kleinen, says “we are ready for the launch at XEI and will be watching for the deployment of RockSat-X and the successful collection of contamination-free samples from space.”

To learn about the mission, click here. And to find out about XEI and their Evactron® Decontamination systems, visit www.evactron.com.

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