Rocket explosion sends Canadian students’ science experiment up in flames

KAMLOOPS, B.C.—A year’s worth of hard work and fundraising efforts by a group of students from Kamloops, B.C., have gone up in flames with the spectacular explosion of a commercial rocket bound for the International Space Station.
Just six seconds after liftoff Tuesday evening, the rocket launched from the Orbital Sciences Corp.’s complex in eastern Virginia exploded, destroying a payload of equipment that included the experiments of students from across North America.
On board was a microgravity experiment developed by four boys who attended McGowan Park elementary school in Kamloops last year and are now in Grade 8.
Yet Paul Hembling, the project co-ordinator for the Kamloops/Thompson school district and principal of Bert Edwards Science and Technology School, remained surprisingly upbeat about the experience.
“We basically paid $25,000 to pay for that explosion to launch our experiment along with 17 others from all other U.S. jurisdictions,” he said with a chuckle, adding McGowan Park was the only Canadian school involved in the flight.
The experiment was designed to examine how space impacts the growth of crystals, and Hembling said it involved silicon tubes, 17 centimetres long and 0.9 centimetres in diameter.



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