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Fact sheet number: 04/03
Release date:

Education Payload Operations (EPO)

Mission: Expedition Seven


Education Payload Operations (EPO) is an education payload designed to support the NASA Mission to inspire the next generation of explorers. Generally, these activities will focus on demonstrating science, mathematics, technology, engineering or geography principals.

Video recording of the demonstrations and/or still photographic documentation of a crewmember operating EPO hardware while on orbit will achieve EPO goals and objectives. The overall goal for every expedition is to facilitate education opportunities that use the unique environment of human space flight.

Through an agreement with NASA Headquarters, five museums and science centers from around the country provided the hardware and procedures for EPO-8. These organizations form the Museum Aerospace Education Alliance (MAEA). Member of the group are the Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii; St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis, Mo.; Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, Colo.; Maryland Science Center, Baltimore, Md; Center of Science and Industry (COSI), Columbus and Toledo, Ohio.

The overall objectives of the payload are to help students discover how familiar objects may perform differently in the microgravity environment on aboard the Space Station. Students also will learn ways that humans must adapt to use these familiar objects in space.

During Expedition Seven, three education payload items will be demonstrated. Additional EPO-8 hardware will be used during subsequent expeditions.


The payload for Expedition Seven consists of three items: Wright Flyer, Paper Airplane Activity, and Pu'ili Hawaiian Instrument. Two crewmembers are required to perform and videotape educational demonstrations using these items.

Wright Flyer: Sixth-grade students at Orono Middle School in Orono, Maine, constructed the scale model of the Wright Flyer. As part of the Centennial of Flight activities in 2003, NASA plans to provide educators around the country with plans to construct a similar scale model Wright Flyer. Students will have the opportunity to use the plans to build a model out of balsa wood and tissue paper.

On orbit, the Wright Flyer will be used to enhance discussions about the basic elements of flight, including lift, thrust and control. In addition, the flyer will be used in a comparison and contrast of the concepts of flight and orbit. Crewmembers will use rubber band-powered propellers to fly the model on orbit. Discussions and demonstrations will be videotaped for use in future educational products.

Paper Airplane Activity: The paper airplane is a universal toy that can be used to assist students in understanding basic principals of flight - including drag, lift and propulsion. Crewmembers will use paper airplanes to examine Newton's Third Law of Motion and flight characteristics in a microgravity environment. Students will use similar paper airplanes on Earth to compare and contrast flight performance.

Using a paper airplane with wingtips, crewmembers will launch it with an elastic band propulsion system. The plane will be launched three times using a different stretch (8, 10 and 12 inches) of the elastic band. Flight characteristics and the length of the flight path will be noted after each flight. A paper airplane without wingtips also will be flown three times. Crewmembers will adjust the position of the wingtips for each flight. Length of flight path and flight characteristics will be noted after each flight.

Crewmembers will choose one of the airplanes to compare its performance using a short or long stretch of elastic band. Flight characteristics and length of flight path will be noted after each flight. Demonstrations will be videotaped for future educational products.

Pu'ili: The Pu'ili is a bamboo musical instrument unique to Hawaii. A piece of bamboo is split into narrow strips that vibrate when the instrument is tapped against its surface. The Pu'ili can be played individually or as a pair. Traditionally, dancers use the Pu'ili to tap against the floor, their shoulder or arm, the shoulder or arm of a partner, or against another Pu'ili.

On orbit, crewmembers will be asked to play the Pu'ili to determine if vibrations and sound produced are similar to vibrations and sound produced on Earth. Crewmembers will also demonstrate the effect of tapping the Pu'ili against stable and floating crewmembers. Demonstrations will be videotaped for use in future educational products.


At MAEA locations, students and educators will participate in lessons and activities related to payload operations. Video of on-orbit demonstrations will be distributed to member organizations for use in lessons and also for future use in museum exhibits. Students at these locations will have the opportunity to participate in live in-flight education programs during which the crew will demonstrate and answer questions about the payload. Video and information will be distributed to NASA's education programs for use in educational resources, multimedia products and Web sites.

More Information

For more information on this experiment, other Space Station investigations, please visit:

Steve Roy
Public Affairs Office
(256) 544-0034

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