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Team Saguaro Snakes!

Go For Launch! Orbital ATK Division Winners (2017)

Team Saguaro Snakes

From the Go For Launch! Gilbert, AZ 2017 Program, Saguaro Snakes team members are:

  • Ian Anderson
  • Devin Askue
  • Rian Espinosa
  • Nicolas Jepsen
  • Abigail Youngker

Saguaro Snake’s winning experiment grows plants in microgravity to test how nitrogen being put back into the soil might be affected by the microgravity conditions. This experiment launched to the International Space Station aboard OA-8, the ninth flight of the Orbital ATK unmanned resupply spacecraft Cygnus on November 11, 2017.


The experiment did successfully launch to station aboard OA-8; however, due to technical difficulties, didn’t return any data. The experiment was reflown aboard OA-9. The students are still working analyze the data

Higher Orbits would also like to extend a special thanks to all of our presenting partners and event sponsors for the Orbital ATK Division. Thank you to Southwest Airlines for Travel Support and to Orbital ATK for their sponsorship of the entire series.

The Saguaro Snakes represent the very best of what were trying to accomplish which is to develop the next generation of space explorers. The team presented us with an innovative and well thought out concept that explores how peanut plants grow in space. It was a tough decision with many worthy competitors but the Saguaro Snakes earned the opportunity to take the next step on their journey towards deep space exploration and beyond. We are honored to host their experiment aboard our company’s Cygnus spacecraft on an upcoming mission to the International Space Station.

Frank Culbertson, former NASA astronaut and President of Orbital ATK͛s Space Systems Group.

When I was little i would go out to my yard, lay down, and just stare at the stars. My mom would come out in the morning in a panic and see that i feel asleep looking at the sky. I never once thought I would design something that would be sent up there. And now that I have, it feels like a dream come true. Not only did myteam win and do something incredible, but we also showed that girls can do this too. It’s not just “a mans job” and just because you’re a girl in a business full of guys, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You just prove to all of them that you can. I was given a great opportunity by the people at Higher Orbits, and I will always be grateful for that. Because of them, a dream has been made into a reality.

Abigail Youngker, Team Saguaro Snakes

"It was so exciting having my son’s team’s experiment chosen to be tested on the ISS! This is an opportunity we never knew even existed. What followed was amazing! We got invited to go to the NASA facility on Wallops Island, VA, and actually watch the rocket launch with their experiment on board! We toured the facilities, met leaders in the field, and got to be right in the middle of all the action! The team got interviewed by various media, and got to share their excitement while explaining their experiment. This was a once in a lifetime experience for us!"

Christine Jepsen, Parent of Saguaro Snakes Team Member

“I just want to thank to you for opportunities you gave me and my team from Arizona because of the Higher Orbit camps. We were able to grow and thrive through the important skills you guys taught us and the adventures we had in Wallops Island Virginia. Again, what you gave us was a once in a life time opportunity, and we greatly appreciate it.”

Rian Espinosa, Team Saguaro Snakes

Orbital ATK Division

Experiments like these make it to space through your charitable contributions!

Higher Orbits is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math by bringing young people together with Astronauts and industry professionals to explore the exciting possibilities offered by space and space exploration!

Please make all checks payable to “Higher Orbits" and send to:

Higher Orbits Foundation PO Box 4092 Leesburg, VA 20177