The Orion's Quest Program


Orion's Quest known as OQ, is an internet based education program for upper elementary, middle and high school students.


OQ employs current NASA research to reach and inspire "the next generation of explorers."

OQ places students in the role of research assistant in their supporting authentic research being conducted on the International Space Station.

Orion's Quest Mission: To Challenge Students

To challenge Students to excel in math and science through their active participation in space-based research.

Orion's Quest Vision:

A world that values science.

current Missions

CµRE (Cancer Microgravity Research Experiment)

This new mission is based on the cancer drug research of Dr. Shou-Ching Jaminet.  The investigation studies whether cells grown in microgravity can serve as a model for cells in the human body on Earth and can be used to test the effectiveness and safety of a new cancer fighting drug.

Stem Cell Studies On Station

This new mission is based on the stem cell research of Dr. Abba Zubair.  The investigation studies whether stem cells will grow faster in microgravity and be of sufficient quality for use in treatment of a variety of medical conditions here on Earth.

Students engage in authentic International Space Station National Laboratory sponsored stem cell research as they follow the work of Dr. Zubair from pre-launch through recovery and analysis.

Stem On Station

This experiment is a first of a kind study of the interactions of germs and host organisms in real time while in microgravity. By analyzing video downlinked from an experiment onboard the International Space Station and submitting their data to the Principle Investigator Dr. Cheryl Nickerson of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, students will be engaged in real space-based research and work in support of NASA’s Human Space Exploration program.

Managing Microbes In Space

On August 26, 2016 a SpaceX dragon capsule splashed down off the coast of California having delivered cargo and experiment payloads to the International Space Station. Included in that payload was an experiment designed to study the effects of microgravity on living heart cells.

In this experiment Principle Investigators (PI’s) Dr. Joseph Wu of Stanford University and Dr. Peter Lee of The Ohio State University use human heart cells derived from non-embryonic stem cells to look for changes in things like beat rate, morphology and gene expression while in the microgravity environment of space.

Plant Growth In Space

Fast Plants and is designed to shed light on the question, “How do plants react to microgravity in their early growth stages”. As humans continue to expand the duration of space flights and the distance travelled from Earth the need for sustainability in space becomes essential.

This investigation is designed to have students discover how the phototropic and gravitropic responses of plants grown in a space-based experiment onboard the International Space Station compare with those of plants grown in an earth-based control experiment.

Spiders In Space

This space-based research project gathers data about the interaction and movements of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the orb weaving spider Nephila clavipesliving in the same habitat while onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The investigation focuses on the spiders and is designed to study the differences between webs spun in the space-based experiment and the earth-based control experiment. Students will be asked to do a variety of activities including measurement of the growth of the spider and observing and recording the web spinning process in microgravity.

Fruit Flies In Space

This virtual mission “Fruit Flies in Space” was part of the payload on NASA’s STS 134 flight. It is a biology based mission which focuses on the Fruit Fly Drosophila melanogaster and uses actual photographs, video and data downlinked from the International Space Station.

The mission is designed to have students support the work of NASA scientist Dr. Sharmila Bhattacharya, Head of the Biomodel Performance and Behavior Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center, as she studies the effects of microgravity on the development, behavior and movement of this organism.

Butterflies In Space

Launched to the International Space Station aboard NASA’s mission STS-129, this activity focuses on the ability of “Painted Lady Butterflies”, Vanessa cardui to “pupate” in microgravity.

This activity supports the research of the Butterfly Pavilion at Westminster, CO. Students construct a butterfly habitat in the classroom mimicking the structure and conditions of the “in-flight” habitat aboard the International Space Station.

Silicate Gardens In Space

Orion’s Quest “Silicate Gardens in Space” virtual mission is a chemistry-based research study in support of the work of crystallographers Dr. Julyan Cartwright and Dr. C. Ignacio Sainz Diaz at the Laboratory for the Study of Crystallography in Granada, Spain.

This investigation combines two experiments that were part of the payloads of NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour missions STS-118 and STS-123. Both flights delivered their experiments to the International Space Station (ISS).

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