YouTube Space Lab is challenging students aged 14 to 18 to design a science experiment that can be performed in space. The two winning experiments will be conducted aboard the International Space Station (ISS), with the proceedings live-streamed on YouTube.

The initiative comes from Google’s YouTube and Lenovo, in cooperation with Space Adventures and space agencies including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Students have until Dec. 17 to submit a YouTube video describing their experiment, either alone or in groups of up to three. The entries will be judged by a panel that includes professor Stephen Hawking, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator of Education and former astronaut Leland Melvin, ESA astronaut Frank De Winne, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and Cirque du Soleil’s founder Guy Laliberté, with input from the YouTube community.

“As a company committed to the next generation of scientists, YouTube launched Space Lab to allow ordinary students the extraordinary opportunity of having their experiment carried out in space,” said Zahaan Bharmal, Google’s head of Marketing Operations, Europe, Middle East, and Africa and the man behind the idea for Space Lab. “The Space Lab channel will serve as a home base on YouTube for creating, sharing, and discovering the best space and science-related videos in the world. Our goal is to encourage students to explore the world of science, earthbound and beyond, by first accessing YouTube, and ultimately space.”

In March 2012, six regional finalists will experience a Zero-G flight and receive other prizes in Washington, D.C. The two global winners, one from each age group, will additionally get to choose either a trip to Tanegashima Island, Japan, to watch their experiment blast off in a rocket bound for the ISS, or once they are 18 years old, a one-of-a-kind astronaut training experience in Star City, Russia.

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Photo of the International Space Station with ATV-2 and Endeavour
by Expedition 27 crew member Paolo Nespoli from the Soyuz TMA-20,
used courtesy of ESA/NASA