SpaceX explosion ruins McMinnville HS project

SpaceX supply ship exploded after liftoff

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft breaks apart shortly after liftoff at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sunday, June 28, 2015. The rocket was carrying supplies to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (KOIN) — When the SpaceX rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station broke apart Sunday shortly after liftoff, it was a not just a severe blow to NASA.

It ruined on on-board experiment from the engineering students at McMinnville High School.

The students from the Engineering & Aerospace Sciences Academy went to Florida with mentors and a teacher to watch the lift off. The student project was a nanolab that was supposed to collect data about how metals oxidize in space.

The project is a microlab “about the size of a butter cube,” said teacher MaryBeth Kramer. “It has a programmable board with a camera that the astronauts just plug in like a USB port.”

Jamie Graham, who has been on the nanolab team for 2 years, said through the school district the project design involved “chemical, mechanical, electrical and software engineering.”

The McMinnville students were going to track and compare the data every 3 days.

The team made 2 models and prototypes and think they should be able to recreate the nanolab for another launch.

Kramer said the students were “still in the game.”

Deborah Jackson said it was disappointing, “but we don’t do science because it’s easy.”

The accident happened about 2½ minutes into the flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida. A billowing white cloud emerged in the sky, growing bigger and bigger, then fiery plumes shot out. Pieces of the rocket could be seen falling into the Atlantic Ocean like a fireworks display gone wrong.

More than 5,200 pounds (2,360 kilograms) of space station cargo were on board, including the first docking port designed for future commercial crew capsules, a new spacesuit and a water filtration system.

NASA officials said they have enough supplies for the three-person crew on board the station to last until October and still plan to send three more crewmembers up in a late July launch. Normally, NASA likes to have a six-month cushion of food and water, but it is now down to four months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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