Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Just imagine, middle school students from the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation will be traveling courtesy of the University of Montana Spectrum Discovery Area to the Kennedy Space Center in early October to view the launch of the Space X Crew-5 mission.

KGVO News spoke to Jessie Herbert-Meny, director of the spectrUM Discovery Area about the trip.

“We are so thrilled to be participating in a program called Students to Launch,” said Herbert-Meny. “It's through NASA and funded through the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, and we are working with the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and we plan to be sending 48 middle school students this October to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of the SpaceX crew five mission.”

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It all started with a Water Rocket experiment

Herbert-Meny laid out the groundwork of how the students were chosen for the trip to Cape Canaveral.

“Back in August, we worked with NASA and provided a program for the students on the Flathead Reservation to build and launch their own water rocket,” she said. “It was a like an engineering project that was team based and they were so excited about it, and now  the pot just got sweetened, and now they get this amazing opportunity to go and watch a launch and meet with astronauts and the professionals that work for NASA.”

KGVO asked about how the trip will enhance educational opportunities for the middle schoolers.

“I am so excited to be able to connect them with the researchers and the educational opportunities at the University of Montana,” she said. “SpectrUM has a really deep partnership with the Boys and Girls Club with the Flathead Reservation. So we'll be going back quite a few times to do follow up activities with them, and we're hoping that this is just one of the first opportunities here with NASA and that we might get to do more things like this in the future.”

Trip Delayed by Hurricane Ian

With Hurricane Ian slamming into Florida, Herbert-Meny said the original date of October 3 has been delayed for a week.

“We've just this morning learned that we are likely pushing back our visit by one week,” she said. “Our plan was to leave on Friday of this week but we'll be going next week now, and we all hope that by then they will be able to safely land in Florida and observe a launch and it won't be impacted by the weather.”

Students from Montana, Florida and Texas were the first to participate in this program. In Montana, S&K Technologies also is supporting student transportation to and from the airport.

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