WEST FARGO-"5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Engine ignition. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 Rocket, with science for today and deep space exploration for tomorrow." With those words from mission control, a SpaceX rocket carrying a science project created by West Fargo Liberty Middle School students blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Friday, April 8.
The SpaceX rocket and Dragon spacecraft lifted off about 3:43 p.m., with Liberty students watching and cheering.
After the initial cheering, the students, parents and teachers gathered in the school's library and waited patiently to see if the rocket would survive it launch and make it to its final destination-the International Space Station-unlike a rocket their experiment was on last summer that blew up.
"We're just hoping it doesn't explode again," eighth-grader Skyler Manney said moments before the rocket lifted off. Manney and classmates Jacob Angus and Abby Bueling created an experiment to test whether iron rusts differently in space.
The project was one of 24 chosen from across the country to participate in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 7 to the International Space Station.
"It was disappointing," Manney said of last June's rocket explosion. "I was disappointed, but I knew we'd get another chance to get it up there."
This time, Manney and her group's prayers were answered with a successful launch. "That was exciting and (I) was proud that it made it," Angus said. "It was fun to create that experiment and get it to actually work this time. It took a lot of hard work, but I think it was fun overall and exciting."
Seventh-grade science teacher Eric Dobervich, who taught the group when they made the project, said the second launch was worth the wait.
"I think that as a teacher, it's these types of educational experiences that are really what makes it worth it because it's something that was really engaging for the students," Dobervich said.
The SpaceX rocket, after separating from the spacecraft, also survived its landing on a platform in the ocean, which means privately owned Space Exploration Technologies can reuse it for other launches. According to Florida Today, astronauts in the space station will grab the Dragon spacecraft with the space station's robotic arm about 6 a.m. Sunday.