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Student science project on rocket that exploded

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A science experiment designed in Kalamazoo is among the wreckage of a rocket that crashed in Virginia Tuesday night.

The unmanned Antares rocket exploded seconds after its launch from Wallops Island, Virginia.

It was on a mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

What was left of the spacecraft plummeted back down to Earth.

That likely includes fragments of a science project created by four teenage girls from Hackett Catholic High School.

The girls say getting chosen for the opportunity was a lot of work and they can't believe how it all played out.

The students designed the science experiment last year and presented it to a panel of judges in Washington D.C. before it was ultimately chosen to fly to space on board the Antares rocket.

They say their goal was to study and simulate astronaut muscle loss.

"They lose up to 50-percent of their muscle. That's so much that it affects the way they live," explains Grace Brennan, one of the four girls who designed the project.

Classmate Mackenzie Ortlieb adds, "So we chose shrimp because they would be a really easy medium to study and you can see most of their muscle in their tail."

The girls flew out to Virginia over the weekend to watch the launch.

But when it was delayed until Tuesday, the high schoolers had to fly home and instead watched it all unfold on TV.

"We were all standing there, arms around each other and then our mouths all just fell open because it just burst into flames," recalls Delaney Hewitt, another student involved in the experiment.

"It was just kind of an eye opening experience," adds Natalie Moyer. "Stuff like that happens in science and you just have to get used to it."

The principal of St. Monica Catholic School, where the students started their project last year, says overall NASA'S Student Spaceflight Experiments Program was a very positive experience.

And she's hopeful they will be able to send another experiment to space at another time.

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