Knox County Schools experiment explodes in SpaceX rocket launch

A group of students had a science experiment on the rocket, heading for the International Space Station. It was supposed to measure the effects of micro gravity on antibiotics.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A group of Knox County students are disappointed after an unmanned rocket headed to the International Space Station exploded after liftoff.

Previous story: SpaceX launch ends in failure, rocket erupts

Aboard, a science experiment created by four Gresham Middle School students that measures the effects of microgravity on antibiotics.

“It was really disappointing,” said student Keagan Cross.

The students traveled to Cape Canaveral, Florida where they were just like any other scientists.

In fact, don’t call them “student researchers.” To even have their project go to space, it had to have potential to advance the space program. NASA says the science, technology, engineering and math students are microgravity researchers.

A group of students had a science experiment on the rocket, heading for the International Space Station. It was supposed to measure the effects of micro gravity on antibiotics.
A group of students had a science experiment on the rocket, heading for the International Space Station. It was supposed to measure the effects of micro gravity on antibiotics.

“They did all the work,” said Becky Ashe, the Knox County Schools STEM Coordinator. “They were supervised by teachers and people, mentors, but they’re the ones that did the thinking, they did the designing, and they did the grunt work and figured out what dilution of solution to use.”

Just like real researchers, the students had to deal with real failure.

“It’s a tragedy that there was loss of stuff of hardware and research materials,” said Ashe.

This is not the first time this has happened.

Students at L&N Academy also faced challenges after their science experiment exploded during liftoff. Their “Waste in Space” experiment eventually made it up on another launch in October.

Previous story: Rocket carrying Knox County school experiment, groceries arrives in space 

The group of researcher are planning on their experiment doing the same.

“I think we’re going to get our experiment, see what we have and improve on it to make it better for the next re-launch,” said student Hanson Lam. “As the director of this program said, this isn’t a simulation, this program is real. Difficulties do happen and this was something that was out of our hands.”

The students will get a chance to send up their experiment next year. This is the third time the county has participated. Any Knox County student from fifth to 12th grade can get involved.

 

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