Northwest Iowa science class experiment headed to space station - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Northwest Iowa science class experiment headed to space station

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IDA GROVE, Iowa (KTIV) -

Growing up, you might have dreamt of becoming an astronaut.

With a rocket destined for the International Space Station, a small group of high school students can say they're really part of the mission.

California-based SpaceX recently launched an unmanned rocket from Cape Canaveral. On board are supplies for astronauts at the International Space Station. Jessica Gunderson and a three high school classmates--Justin and Austin Sadler and Brittanie Rigby-- from Odebolt Arthur-Battle Creek Ida Grove High School in Ida Grove, Iowa, have worked for months to create an experiment that could help space travel long-term.

"When we started, we were using microscopes and we had absolutely no idea what we were looking for," said Jessica Gunderson.

When the rocket reaches the space station, the project will go inside the station, until five days before the astronauts are ready to leave. They've filled a tube with dormant fish eggs, cotton, and spring water.

"The water will dampen these eggs. These eggs will develop and they'll hatch out. And you'll end up with fish that have only known microgravity," said Jim Christensen, supervisor for Northwest AEA in Sioux City.

They're keeping one test tube in the lab as a control, to see how the killifish respond to normal gravity conditions.

Christensen says those findings could pay big dividends down the road. Whether the fish come back dead or alive, these student scientists will be able to see if the fish develop kidney stones or damaged bones.

"Someday, hey, you know what? We're going to go to Mars, and we're going to go beyond, and we need to know an awful lot about our bodies before we can do that," said Christensen.

"It's really cool to understand that, hey, I have something on there," said Austin Sadler.

Originally, the Dragon took a test run in June, but did not attach to the space station. Astronauts also forgot to activate the students' test tube.

"It wasn't like 'aw shucks', my project didn't work, it was more of a, ‘I wish I could get a redo' to see if it would work," said Gunderson.

Now, after a few minor tweaks, they're getting that second chance.

"Since the first time it failed, you're just really hoping that it's going to work this time," said Justin Sadler.

The Ida Grove proposal was one of 500 ideas brought before Christensen and his committee. From there, the ideas were whittled down to three.

The students presented their ideas in Washington, before this one was chosen to head into space.

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