Several research projects slated for the International Space Station destroyed when Antares rocket fails

When the unmanned Antares cargo rocket exploded just moments after liftoff on 28 October, several planned scientific experiments were ruined. The commercial rocket was to have travelled to the International Space Station on Nasa’s behalf.

One of the pieces of scientific equipment that was to be transported during the ill-fated mission was a high-resolution camera that would have been used to examine the physical and chemical properties of meteors entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The camera, developed by the US Southwest Research Institute, would have shed light on the size, density and chemical composition of meteoroid dust. Nasa said continuous measurement of meteor interactions with Earth’s atmosphere could also reveal previously unforeseen meteor showers.

Other research that was lost when the rocket exploded included work on human blood flow in space that could have helped treat headaches and other neurological conditions experienced by astronauts. The research requires a special neck collar, called a strain-gauge plethysmograph, which measures blood flow from the brain. Several student-led research projects were also lost including studies into pea shoot growth, crystallisation and milk spoilage in a microgravity environment.