Space X explosion burns up RMC team experiment - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Space X explosion burns up RMC team experiment

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Young Billings scientists didn't see it, but knew something was wrong.

Sunday's Space X launch and subsequent explosion of the rocket carried their experiment -- one that will now be put on hold.

Shortly after take-off, the spacecraft, named Dragon, apparently explodes.

Space X said on Twitter that the vehicle "experienced an anomaly on ascent."

The spacecraft was headed to the International Space Station on a resupply mission.

It was carrying more than two tons of supplies including 1,500 pounds of food and provisions.

But it also carried the never-before-attempted experiment from a young team of scientists from rocky mountain college who were in Florida to see it lift off.

Their work was to observe algae grow in space with a jello-like substance instead of water.

We spoke with the team over the phone to hear their reaction.

"From what we could see from the crowd, everything looked completely normal," Dr. Andy Wildenberg said, Rocky's Computer Science Associate Professor. "The rocket was an amazing thing to watch. It went up and right about the right time for it to end the first stage and start the second, we saw a little ball of light and thought that was good. Everybody went in because people said it wouldn't be easy to see it's second stage. And we got back to the briefing room and people started throwing the word around anomaly and that's never a good thing in space flight."

"At that point, the room got really quiet and people started to realize we lost the space craft. Most of the people in the room had science projects that were up on that rocket and it became very somber very quickly. They call it rocket science for a reason. This stuff is really hard to get right."

The experiment funded by grants cost $31,000 dollars to send to space.

But not all is lost as Wildenberg says the team will stay busy with other projects this summer while they await word of when they can send the observation to space once again. The team will also spend a portion of Monday with NASA scientists.

RELATED: Big things come in small packages: Rocky team's experiment set for space on Sunday

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