"The rocket just blew up:" Students' experiment was on board doomed Antares

SHEBOYGAN (WITI) -- They spent a year working to send their experiment into space -- only to watch it literally burst into flames in a matter of seconds. But there is hope on the horizon.

While the pictures of Tuesday's Antares rocket explosion may say a thousand words, Brian Ewenson shared a much shorter summary.

"Oh, no! Oh, no! The rocket just blew up," said Ewenson.

Ewenson is the Director of Education at Spaceport Sheboygan. His wife Amanda is a teacher in a Texas middle school where students had gathered to watch their work shoot into space.

"I asked immediately how she was feeling, as well as how the students were dealing with this accident," said Ewenson.

The students had an experiment involving crystal growth in space aboard that rocket. Understandably, the students were devastated by the mishap since they spent a year preparing the experiment and raising $21,000 to fund the effort, one which had only survived six seconds after lift-off.

But overnight, there is new life.

"NASA and the National Student Experiment in Space Program has actually told all of the students across the United States and one group in Canada that, yes, we are actually gonna re-fly those experiments," said Ewenson.

Ewenson says the students are learning some of what he teaches at Spaceport Sheboygan in terms of persevering through problems -- which can come with a vehicle featuring thousands of moving parts.

"We have to get to 17,500 miles an hour to get into orbit, and the fact that we do that in less than ten minutes, and that we've done it successfully for 50 years, is a great testament to the folks that work in the aerospace industry," said Ewenson.

FOX6 News has learned a Wisconsin company made parts for the Anteres rocket.

Madison's Orbital Technologies Corporation, better known as Orbitec provided external LED lights. The company also makes rocket engines, life support systems for astronauts and even plant-growing units for use in space.