International Space Station In-flight Education Downlinks (In-flight Education Downlinks) - 07.14.16

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
International Space Station In-flight Education Downlinks (In-flight Education Downlinks) support the Agency's efforts to encourage K-12 students to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Downlinks are facilitated by Teaching From Space, a NASA Education office, and use the unique experience of human space flight to promote and enhance STEM education.
Science Results for Everyone
What is the next-best thing to being in space? Interacting with those who are. “Teaching From Space” coordinates downlinks from the International Space Station to bring the unique experience of human space flight into classrooms across the country.  Millions of students have watched as crewmembers discuss and demonstrate concepts in ways unique to space, and have participated in live question-and-answer sessions with crewmembers.  Downlinks, broadcast live on NASA TV and streamed on the web, are part of a comprehensive educational package that supports national and state education standards and initiatives.

The following content was provided by Becky Kamas, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Becky Kamas, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Houston, TX, United States

Information Pending

Information Pending

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Education (EDU)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
November 2000 - December 2002; November 2002 - May 2003; April 2003 - March 2013

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
In-flight Education Downlinks have been performed continually on the ISS since Expediton 1.

^ back to top

Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • International Space Station In-flight Education Downlinks (In-flight Education Downlinks) are coordinated by Teaching From Space (TFS) in conjunction with the NASA JSC Public Affairs Office (PAO) and are approximately 20 minutes in length. In-flight Education Downlinks allow students and educators to interact with crewmembers on board the International Space Station through a live question and answer session.

  • In-flight Education Downlinks afford education audiences the opportunity to learn first-hand from space explorers what it is like to live and work in space.

  • Students pose questions related to classroom studies and watch from an educational organization as crewmembers discuss and demonstrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) concepts in ways that are unique to the environment of space. In-flight Education Downlinks are broadcast live on NASA TV and are streamed on the web.

Teaching From Space (TFS), a NASA Education office, is responsible for promoting learning opportunities and building partnerships with the education community while using the unique environment of space and NASA’s human space flight program. Many TFS activities focus on demonstrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) principles, along with geography principles, in a microgravity environment.
TFS also coordinates International Space Station In-flight Education Downlinks (In-flight Education Downlinks) which provide student and educators the opportunity to learn about what it is like to live and work in space by speaking to the crew on-orbit. Prior to a downlink, students study space flight and the International Space Station to help develop questions to ask the crew. Since downlinks began, thousands of students have had the opportunity to participate in a downlink where crewmembers answered student questions and performed simple educational demonstrations.
Members of the formal and informal educational communities, NASA Centers and educational programs and the ISS International Partners are eligible to host downlinks. Downlink hosts work with TFS to make a downlink part of a comprehensive educational package that supports national and state education standards and initiatives. Downlinks are broadcast live on NASA TV and streamed on the web. Through educational broadcasting, millions of students world-wide have been able to watch live downlinks.

^ back to top


Space Applications
In-flight Education Downlinks introduce the next generation of explorers to the environment of space.

Earth Applications
In-flight Education Downlinks provide a new approach for capturing the imagination of students with respect to space flight and STEM subjects. Additionally, allowing students to participate in an activity that utilizes NASA-unique resources inspires them to pursue careers in science and engineering.

^ back to top


Operational Requirements and Protocols
An ISS video camera and the ISS communications equipment is needed during In-flight Education Downlink sessions. During the sessions the crewmembers answer questions and perform demonstrations for the students for a standard 20-minute event.
In-flight Education Downlinks require that crew members position themselves in front of the ISS audio and video equipment during each session.

^ back to top

Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

^ back to top

Results/More Information

As of July 2011, millions of students have participated in In-flight Education Downlinks, including 6 million students that were reached during a Channel One (network broadcast to schools) downlink during Expedition 18 and the STS-119 mission.

The following quotations are from students and educators that have participated in a downlink:
  • "I didn’t know about all the good jobs we could get when we grow up. My parents say they didn’t have these opportunities when they were growing up, but we do." – 7th grade student in Phelps, KY

  • "That's a moment I'll never forget. It's going to live with me for the rest of my life." – 9th grade student in Lakeland, FL

  • "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students to meet an astronaut and to see that they can achieve anything they want in life." – Elementary school educator in Springfield, MA

  • "A lot of our students at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, because of our focus, they want to be those people. So, for them to talk to those leaders, the people that are living the dream they have, was unbelievable." – High school educator in Lakeland, FL

^ back to top

Results Publications

^ back to top

Ground Based Results Publications

^ back to top

ISS Patents

^ back to top

Related Publications

^ back to top

Related Websites
Taste in Space

^ back to top


image Crewmembers on board the International Space Station (ISS) answered questions students asked in four languages during ISS Expedition 13 during the International Education Week event held on November 14, 2006, at the U.S. Department of Education. Image courtesy of the NASA Educational Technology Services.
+ View Larger Image

image From 210 miles above Earth, Naval Postgraduate School alumni and Expedition 14 ISS Commander, Michael Lopez-Alegria, thrilled an audience of students, faculty, staff and their kids April 5, 2007. Pictured above eight-year old Mark and nine-year old Julianne asked Lopez-Alegria what it's like to float and what do stars look like from the space. Lopez-Alegria did one better. He tumbled himself like a whirling dervish and then told Julianne that when they are on the far side of Earth, away from the sun, there are so many billions-of-stars that it's more like seeing a whitish background with little black specks! US Navy Photo by Javier Chagoya.
+ View Larger Image

image Students at the Discovery Center of Idaho watched as STS-118 crewmembers docked at the International Space Station provided visual demonstrations to answer questions. Image courtesy of the Discovery Center of Idaho.
+ View Larger Image

image NASA’s Leland Melvin and education specialist Trinesha Dixon with a New York high school student (center) await a response from astronaut Cady Coleman aboard the International Space Station during a special downlink held in honor of Women’s History Month. Image courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.
+ View Larger Image