VIDEO: SpaceX captured, Knox County students’ experiment in space

Rocket launches from NASA’s historic moon pad

(SpaceX)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WATE) –  A science experiment created by East Tennessee students is now at the International Space Station.

The SpaceX Falcon launched in space in order for the Dragon cargo vehicle to be captured the International Space Station crew. Earlier in the week, the launch of the rocket was delayed. NASA said they decided to delay the launch in order to take a closer look at the positioning of the second stage engine nozzle.

The rocket hoisted supplies to the International Space Station. It is also carried an experiment from Bearden Middle School.

Bearden Middle School Students at Kennedy Space Center (Kayla Canario)
Bearden Middle School Students at Kennedy Space Center (Kayla Canario)

The students were selected for the Student Space Flight Experiments Program Competition. They designed an experiment to test the effect of microgravity on the antibiotics on a strain of the pink eye virus. The experiment will be performed by astronauts on the International Space Station.

“I really liked Kennedy Space Center and they had a lot of stuff to do there and I like being there with my friends,” said Bearden Middle School Student Katherine Trent.

Students from Bearden Middle School, as well as Vine Middle Magnet Schools and Halls Middle School, traveled to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch.

“We were standing about 12 miles from it and so we did have a good view,” said Halls Middle School Student Taya Sutton. “A couple moments it was kind of loud and we could see really well.”

An experiment from Vine Middle School was also selected as part of the Student Space Flight Experiments Program Competition. Later this year, the Vine team will go back to watch their own experiment launch on a SpaceX flight.

“We’re like really ecstatic that we get to comeback and get the experience to see our project launch too,” said Vine Magnet Middle School Student Tayon Wright.

Previous story: Knoxville middle school students win NASA science competition

SpaceX launches rocket from NASA’s moon pad

FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010 file photo, photographers prepare to make photos of the space shuttle Discovery at launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Dormant for nearly six years, Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center should see its first commercial flight in February 2017. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will use the pad to hoist supplies for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
FILE – In this Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010 file photo, photographers prepare to make photos of the space shuttle Discovery at launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Dormant for nearly six years, Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center should see its first commercial flight in February 2017. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will use the pad to hoist supplies for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The SpaceX Falcon rocket blased off Sunday morning from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. Astronauts flew to the moon from this very spot nearly a half-century ago.

The pad was last used for NASA’s final shuttle mission nearly six years ago. Sunday’s launch was the 95h rocket launch from 39A.

It was the departure point for 82 space shuttle flights and 11 Apollo missions, as well as the unmanned 1973 launch of Skylab, NASA’s original space station. One flight resulted in casualties. As Columbia lifted off on Jan. 16, 2003, foam insulation from the external fuel tank broke off and gouged the left wing. Columbia and its crew were lost 16 days later during re-entry.

NASA built 39A, as it’s commonly known, in the mid-1960s for the monstrous Saturn V moon rockets. It was first used in 1967 for an unmanned test flight, followed by another early the next year. Next came the astronauts, with Apollo 8 soaring to the moon right before Christmas 1968. SpaceX chief Elon Musk noted late last week via Instagram, “We are honored to be allowed to use it.”

On July 16, 1969, as Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins embarked on the first manned moon landing. All six Apollo moon-landings originated from here, as did close-call Apollo 13. Columbia made the first space shuttle flight from this pad on April 12, 1981, while Atlantis closed out the program from the same spot on July 8, 2011.

SpaceX signed a 20-year lease with NASA in 2014, beating out another tech billionaire’s rocket company, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Renovation work was accelerated after SpaceX’s Sept. 1 rocket explosion a few miles away at Launch Complex 40 on Air Force property.

The accident occurred during fueling for a prelaunch test. It is from pad 39A that SpaceX plans to launch Falcon rockets with space station-bound astronauts for NASA as early as next year.

The company also might send spacecraft and, ultimately, crews to Mars from this location as well. “What an awesome use of a great American asset,” Kennedy Space Center’s director, Robert Cabana, said Friday. Without the lease agreement, “this pad would have just sat here and rusted away in the salt air.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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