Marissa Incatasciato, a 15-year-old Girl Scout and student at Heritage High School in Leesburg, will send a science experiment aboard a SpaceX launch from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station later this year.
She is one of a handful of winners of the “Making Space for Girls Challenge,” which is sponsored by SpaceKids Global in conjunction with the Girl Scouts Citrus Council in Central Florida. Nearly 700 girls from around the world entered the competition, competing in three categories: creating science experiments, designing mission patches, or writing an essay about future space travel. The projects, submitted in October 2020, were presented to a group of aerospace professionals for judging. There were more than 700 submissions from around the world. In total, nine entries were selected as winning science projects.
Marissa, a 10-year Girl Scout, devised an experiment that could one day keep astronauts alive on deep-space missions, seeking to use living micro-organisms to process carbon dioxide and waste on the International Space Station more efficiently than the current system.
It also is not the first time that the Girl Scouts have given Marissa an outlet for her passion for science.
In 2018, through the Girl Scouts’ Destinations program, she attended and graduated from Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. A year later, she and a fellow troop member earned Silver Awards, the highest award that could be earned for their Girl Scout level at that time, for teaching biology, chemistry, geology, and astronomy concepts to elementary-aged kids at a weeklong day camp. She’s also earned badges in robotics and crime solving, as well as non-science-related badges like archery, comic book artist, and woodworking.
“Girl Scouts has helped me do things I never would have thought possible at my age,” stated Marissa. “It’s a dream come true to have my experiment launched to the ISS. I just hope they let me out of school to go see the launch,” she joked.
Making Space for Girls was formed in 2019 as a partnership with SpaceKidsGlobal, a nonprofit that uses space exploration to engage children in STEAM learning, and Girl Scouts of Citrus Council. ProxOps sponsored the experiments that will go to space.
For more information about the challenge, go to MakingSpaceforGirls.com.