Zahraa M’s CRS-30 Launch Experience (Team Space Shell 6)

My name is Zahraa Mahmud. I am a 10th grade student who goes to Sault Area High School in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. Two years ago, in mid-July, I had the opportunity to attend a Higher Orbits camp. Through this camp my team and I would have the chance to design an experiment that could potentially be launched into space and my team being able to watch the launch from an official viewing in Florida! But the catch was that my team would have to compete with all of the other teams in my camp AND the winning teams from my state's other locations. It seemed really hard and there was so much pressure, but in the end after not giving up, my team ended up being the finalists from Michigan!

Our experiment was supposed to launch sometime late in 2023, but it ended up getting pushed so much that it ultimately transferred to another rocket that’s launch happened in March of 2024. My team and I had been anticipating for the launch for quite a long time, and it finally coming felt like a thrill!

Being able to view and experience a real rocket launch is truly an amazing thing that most people can’t say for themselves-- even grasping an opportunity for it, and I can say that I’ve helped create an experiment that took off in a rocket! It feels so good.

As for events for the launch, on the night before, my team was invited to a special dinner along with the finalists from two other states—Texas and Arizona, whose experiments were to launch with my team’s. There was also an astronaut and others from NASA.

On the day of the launch, we got to go to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center and then to the official launch-viewing spot! From there, watching the rocket launch is something I would and could never forget. I could feel it as it took off into the air to outer space! We also got to meet with Space Tango,  the team that built our experiment, after many months on zoom calls. And after the successful launch, we all celebrated with cupcakes!

In conclusion I would definitely recommend anyone to participate in the Higher Orbits camp if they get the opportunity because it is a great one that I wouldn’t want anybody to miss. The things I got to experience we so amazing that I will never forget. Take a chance on the incredible possibility that something so amazing could happen to you, too!

Written by Zahraa Mahmud

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