Cubes in Space Update
Unfortunately I have bad news for you and your students. For the first time in CiS history, we had a failed mission. RB-3 did not launch on Sunday, which was the very last day of the Fall 2017 balloon campaign at Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in New Mexico. The weather conditions during the 8 week launch window only allowed 4 balloons to launch. And 2 of those launches happened last week. Since WASP, on which we were a secondary payload, was an engineering test flight - it was the lowest in the priority queue. Scientific missions from universities and research labs took precedence over NASA's engineering test flight.
It was a nail biter right to the end. WASP was ready to be inflated on Sunday after SuperBit launched in the late afternoon. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to launch WASP.
I'm sure you are wondering, "What next?" We will fly the experiments on the 2018 balloon mission. If you would like the same experiments to fly next year, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know. If the experiment contains non-biological, non-perishable materials, we can simply hold onto the experiments and put another label on the cube. For the experiments with biological material, we would simply (and respectfully) place the contents in the waste bin. Yes, it pained me to type those words. I feel like we would be putting children's dreams in the bin. We can send additional cubes next year in which to put the experiments containing biologicals, just as we did this spring.
That's the plan. We're terribly sorry that our mission did not launch. Please convey our sincere apologies to your students. It's dismaying, but there is always the inherent risk of a failed launch with every mission - no matter the platform or vehicle. Although completely unintentional, your students truly experienced a "real life" scenario of a scrubbed launch. You can explain to them that scientists and engineers that work for years on a payload feel exactly the same way when a rocket explodes post-launch or the vehicle that is to carry instrumentation to the surface of Mars gets lost or crashes to the surface.
Please let us know what you would like to do for next year.