Petaluma high students send science experiment to space

PETALUMA, Calif. (KTVU) - As the SpaceX rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Sunday headed for the International Space Station, perhaps few in the Bay Area were watching more intently than some students and teachers from Petaluma High School. They even had a podcast.

The excitement surrounded six female students whose science experiment was selected to be on the rocket.

Their science teacher, Linda Judah, explained they were looking to see if a certain kind of algae could grow at the space station, and if so, it could be used as a potential bio-fuel.

So they sent a chamber with some algae, nutrients and a preservative to the space rocket to find out.

"Once this got to the International Space Station, the astronauts would unclip this first clamp and shake it up. And it would mix the algae with nutrition and begin feeding it," explained Judah.

But about two minutes into the unmanned flight, there was trouble.

The rocket blew up. It's is the second time in a row an unmanned rocket carrying supplies to the space station blew up.

As the rocket exploded into pieces, so did the experiment on board.

While what happened is a huge let down for the students, their teacher told them it's a huge lesson, about science, and about life.

"The key to are you going to be a success or not is how do you handle it when failure happens," said Judah.

The experiment apparently won't just go up in smoke.

NASA is planning another launch to resupply the space station. And the experiment from Petaluma's science students should be on board, once again.

There is a Go Fund Me site up to support the students' efforts.