Tin Whiskers Team Statement
Student Spaceflight Experiments Program
Mission 6 Re-Flight on SpaceX CRS-7 Launch
On Sunday, June 28, the SSEP team attempted to re-fly their tin whiskers experiment on the SpaceX CRS-7 rocket out of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The student experiment was lost when the rocket failed and exploded about 2 minutes after launch. The
team was watching the launch from a safe distance at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex.
situation, and the team’s losses mirror a national concern about commercial spaceflight failures to low-Earth orbit in the past 8 months. The media picked up on the student team that has lost two experiments due to major launch failures and has been reaching out to them.
The team is positive despite the setbacks. With every setback, the experiment has grown stronger, and they have learned so much more about tin whiskers and electronics failures. They have strengthened their experimental design and gained experiences at NASA Goddard that are life changing. They have made contacts with scientists who have been encouraging and generous with their time, their knowledge, and their laboratories. A few minutes after the launch, our kind friends at NASA Goddard had already reached out to me, offering ice cream, condolences, and new experimental samples.
Thus, the team’s frustrations are mitigated by the belief that new opportunities will be open to them as a result of this setback. They are awaiting word from Jeff Goldstein, National Program Director of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, on when the next flight opportunity will occur. Once again, the experiment will be re-flown at no additional expense. This flight opportunity is not scheduled at this time because Orbital Sciences and SpaceX are America’s only spaceflight companies, and both companies are temporarily offline due to these launch failures.
We appreciate so much the support from our PSA family – faculty, school board, students, parents, and community. Many aspects of life do not go as planned, and these failed missions can serve as a safe but poignant means for students to understand and explore failure. We can all learn to measure our success by our response to failure. The tin whiskers team will lead the way.