Arlington Heights Boy Scouts have project launched into space

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- A group of Boy Scouts from Arlington Heights reached for the stars with a recent biology experiment on how DNA mutates.

Their project took flight from Florida aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

The Boy Scouts’ Space Bus serves as a mobile lab where they can conduct experiments, teach lessons and hands on training. They felt it was appropriate to bring it out Monday now that one of their troops has an experiment that’s headed into space.

Monday’s launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket marked a monumental moment in 15-year-old Harmon Bhasin’s young life.

“It was a sense of accomplishment,” he said.

Bhasin is one of 12 Boy Scouts from Troop 209 that designed and built a biology experiment that’s onboard the rocket, now headed for the International Space Station.

“Basically we’re sending E. coli into space and we want to see the difference in mutation in between space and Earth

The results could have an impact on cancer and other medical research,” he said.

The project is the culmination of two and half years and more than 5,200 hours of work.

Troop 209 got the opportunity after winning a local competition. And with the help of mentors, like Bhasin’s father–who just so happens to be a software engineer—they were able to make it come to fruition.

“It was a great learning experience, I was really surprised to see how well they can do things when they are like organized and they can organize themselves too, so it was really amazing,” Jagmohan Bhasin said.

David and Laura Malek’s son, Ian, was also a part of the team.

He was one of the lucky few that was able to travel to Florida to see the launch in person. He called his dad right after the rocket took off.

“I think the comment was, 'This is really cool,' which is a lot for him because it’s usually a one-word answer,” David Malek said.

“I had no idea to what level this would take him, both from a technology perspective but also from a leadership perspective. They have to work in teams and negotiate and problem solving and to be able to do that have this experience by the time he’s 18, is really rare,” Laura Malek, said.

For Dan Busby who oversees all of the troops in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana, it has been an extraordinary experience.

“Something like today makes me beam with pride for our organization. These young people have gotten a great head start in their future careers,” he said.

Bhasin appreciates the exposure.

“It showed that Boys Scouts can do more stuff than just camping,” he said.

Bhasin had to stay behind because he started school Monday.

He was a little bummed about it, but he says he’s looking forward to seeing the results.

The experiment will be back on earth in about a month. Then there will be another six or seven months of analyzing the data to see what they’ve discovered.