Local Students Lose Space Station Experiment In Failed Rocket Launch

SAN MARINO (CBSLA.com) — When Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket launch failed Tuesday, two local student science experiment went down in flames as well.

Six seconds into a commercial resupply flight, the Antares 130 rocket, commissioned by NASA from Orbital Sciences Corp. and carrying an unmanned spacecraft with 5,000 pounds of supplies  and experiments for the International Space Station, suffered a failure and exploded as it crashed back into the launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia.

Mars Science Lab Flight Director Bobak Ferdowsi of JPL took to social media to address the event.

One experiment lost in the failure was developed by David Hengky and Nathaniel Rolfe, two seniors at San Marino High School.

“When it happened, I wasn’t sure I was seeing things right,” Rolfe said.

Hengky and Rolfe worked with their science teacher, Wyeth Collo, to develop an experiment that aimed to test and observe the exoskeleton development of houseflies in a microgravity environment.

“In zero gravity, does the exoskeleton of a fly, does it develop the same way,” Collo described the experiment, which had won a spot on the mission through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

Despite the setback, Hengky and Rolfe say they are determined to get their experiment into orbit.

“As long as we gather all the materials, the different parts, we can set it up,” Rolfe said.

For that dream to be realized, however, the next commercial resupply mission will have to launch by summer 2015, while the two are still in high school.

The resupply flight, which had been scheduled for a Monday launch but was scrubbed when a boat was discovered in 40 miles offshore in the danger zone, would have been the third of eight missions for Orbital Sciences under their contract with NASA.

The failed mission also marks the first attempt to use the Antares 130 rocket, which is more powerful than the standard Cygnus PCM.

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