December 5, 2014 at 12:22 AM CST - Updated July 21 at 3:40 AM
HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX)
Elementary school students from the gifted programs in George and Hancock Counties took part in a sleep over at the Infinity Science Center in Hancock County on Wednesday night.
It was the ramp up to what NASA had hoped would be the history making launch of the Orion spacecraft. Unfortunately, the space capsule never got off the ground Thursday morning.
The students said it was still the educational experience of a lifetime. The students gathered around a large screen TV with anticipation to watch the Orion spacecraft blast off.
Most woke up from the giant slumber party bright and early for the live viewing of history in the making. Others found the scheduled 6 a.m. launch a little too early for their heavy eyes.
"We really want to see it," said George County Elementary School student Laneykate Hulbert.
The test flight of the Orion capsule is a big deal for NASA and to our nation. It's the spacecraft that could someday take man to the planet Mars.
Four years of planning and billions of dollars have gone into this important launch day, but as the countdown started for lift off, it was stopped several times due to issues like wind and a boat that had gotten too close to the launch pad.
"It's been exciting to have like we're almost there, and then it gets canceled. Then it's kind of disappointing, because we've been here for at least an hour or so," said fifth grade student Thomas Konkel.
"You really can't get impatient with science. You've got to kind of go with the flow," countered Laneykate.
Finally, the launch had to be scrubbed for the day when officials found a technical issue.
"Apparently, one of the ground systems did not close," said the rocket scientist hosting the Infinity event.
The students were disappointed but say they learned a lot from the overnight experience, and getting some of that educational information from astronaut Fred Haise was amazing.
"Meeting him and getting a picture with him, I thought it was really cool. It's pretty cool spending the night in this place where there is so much cool stuff to do," said Thomas.
"We spent all this time and money building this rocket. We wouldn't want to shoot it in the air knowing it was not going to be successful, because we do want to get to Mars. I was disappointed, but maybe it was for the best because we really want everyone to be safe and the ship,” Laneykate said.
NASA officials are set to give the launch another try Friday morning
Meanwhile, the students say they now feel a closer connection to the Orion and plan to follow its progress.