SpaceX Rocket Explosion Dashes Hopes Of Teen Scientists After Destruction Of High School Experiments


Fifty one science experiments made by high school teens across the US exploded with the Dragon rocket of the SpaceX, which was set for a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, June 28. Students from across the country went all the way to Cape Canaveral in Florida to witness the space launch, only to find out that the rocket carrying months' worth of their work exploded two minutes after liftoff.

In San Diego, a group consisting of three girls was given the opportunity to include their science experiment in the cargo mission. The team designed a zero-gravity experiment that aims to find out how liquid columns would respond to mechanical stimuli in space. The entire team was shocked, said one of the girls from Cathedral Catholic High School. Another participant from the La Costa Canyon High School said that the team learned a lot despite the failure. A junior student expressed positivity as she said that all is not lost and that the team could rise again somehow if they obtain sufficient funding to create a better version of their work.

In San Jose, students from the Valley Christian High School and Junior High School aimed to find out how plants can grow in space and how to safeguard electronic devices from radiation through their scientific entries. According to one member of the team, although the physical project may be lost, the learnings they acquired remain. Through this instilled knowledge, they can create future experiments as they advance their careers.

Students from Damien High School in La Verne, California also participated. They included in the failed mission an experiment that is meant to be executed under the conditions at the ISS. The microorganisms they developed is said to have the ability to shut themselves down for an extended period time, even without the presence of water or air. Through this experiment, the students are looking at finding a possible way for humans to survive long-term space mission in the future. Although all participants from the school were seniors and are headed to different universities, they plan to meet up and develop a new experiment together.

In Oregon, a team of students from McMinnville High School created a small device that aims to collect data from space and to compare them with land-based control information regarding metal oxidation. The team had a wide range of feelings after they learned that the rocket exploded. However, in the end, they realized that failures do happen and it is through these setbacks that success ensues. The students are currently waiting for funding news so they can redo their experiment.

Student scientists from Gresham Middle School in Knoxville, Tennessee conducted an experiment that is made to evaluate the effects ISS micro-gravity have to antibiotics. A representative of the team said the initial feeling was disappointment but they were glad than no human was aboard the rocket. As the team board the bus back home, the atmosphere of disappointment lingered but they are resilient to take on a new challenge should National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) offers another opportunity to fly their experiment to space.

SpaceX is a California-based company contracted by NASA to launch cargo space flights to the ISS. Aside from SpaceX, the only US company NASA has partnered with is Orbital Sciences. Both companies are said to be dissolved of their duties and NASA is now relying on the rockets of Russian and Japanese companies to launch the said cargo flights.

Photo: ajmexico | Flickr

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