Rocket launch with East TN students' experiment fails for 3rd time

With just one minute remaining, NASA and SpaceX aborted the countdown for the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft blast off, which was carrying an experiment by Knox County students, due to a problem detected at about 6:20 a.m. Tuesday.

PREVIOUS: Rocket carrying East TN students' experiment explodes during liftoff

This the third time a space mission carrying L&N STEM Academy's experiment has failed. In October, a rocket carrying the same project exploded. Last month, the mission was postponed because of technical problems with the test-firing of the rocket's booster engines. NASA and SpaceX scrubbed Tuesday's launch because of an actuator drift in the second stage.

PREVIOUS:L&N STEM students' experiment to relaunch

If SpaceX resolves the problem, the mission will launch 5:09 a.m. Friday.

If all goes to plan Friday, the unmanned Dragon capsule will blast off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. and travel to the International Space Station. The capsule will carry more than 5,000 pounds of food, supplies, and other science experiments to the space station. It's SpaceX's first launch of the year.

PREVIOUS: Knox students' 'gross' question travels aboard ISS

Unlike the first attempt in October, which ended in an explosion, no students were present on Tuesday morning's launch.

L&N STEM Academy's project is about human waste decomposition in space. It was among 18 student experiments packed into an unmanned Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket that was supposed to launch Oct. 28 from Virginia. The rocket exploded, however, destroying everything.

Several L&N students were at the launch site to watch the liftoff when the explosion happened. Since then, they created a new experiment to transport to the ISS.

L&N is among an elite group of students. NASA said a total of 1,487 proposals involving 6,860 students in grades 5 through 15 were submitted for Mission 6. NASA only named 54 of those as finalists and selected just 18 to fly as part of the NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Yankee Clipper.

Other student experiment set to launch to ISS: Mosquito larvae development by seventh graders from Berkeley Heights, N.J. and milk expiration in microgravity conducted by middle school students from Walterboro, S.C.

Florida Today contributed to this report.


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