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NCWG Cadet’s Experiment to be Flown on the International Space Station

Cadet Shunk
C/Amn Graham Shunk of NC-150 is sending a science experiment to the International Space Station later this year. Photo Credit: Capt Lynne T. Albert, CAP (click image to view full size)
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C/Amn Graham Shunk of NC-150 leads team using radiotrophic fungi to lower radiation levels in space

8/6/2018––C/Amn Graham Shunk, a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadet from MER-NC-150, is sending a science experiment to the International Space Station (ISS)!

Cadet Shunk’s adventure began at a space camp held at the local county library called "Higher Orbits: Go for Launch!" The space camp involved activities, videos and astronaut presentations.  But most importantly, camp teams had the chance to design and present a space project that, if it won the competition, would be flown up to the ISS.  

Cadet Shunk’s team of 5 high school students was called “Team Orion” and Cadet Shunk was the team leader.  The team worked together designing an experiment using a radiotrophic fungus.  Radiotrophic fungi are fungi which appear to perform radiosynthesis, that is, to use the pigment melanin to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy for growth. 

The experiment’s goal is to attempt to lower radiation levels in space, by using C. Shaerospermum, a type of radiotrophic fungus, to feed off of radiation and lower the levels of it. The experiment was designed to fit within a 4-inch by 4-inch by 4-inch cube, called the Tango lab. 

Team Orion won the camp competition and went on to win successive levels of competition as well.  On 14 June 2018, Team Orion was announced as the ultimate winner of the competition! 

The experiment, if everything goes as scheduled, will be flown to the ISS on the rocket mission SpaceX CRS-16, on 29 November 2018. There is also a scholarship associated with winning the competition and each team member will be flown to Cape Canaveral, Florida, along with a parent, to witness the launch.  They also get their hotel, food and other expenses paid for.

Cadet Shunk’s goals in life are to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, become a pilot and ultimately become an astronaut. With his science experiment headed to the ISS, Cadet Shunk is well on his way.