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SpaceX Rocket Explosion Disrupts Astronauts' Lessons For Schoolchildren

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have a countdown to our next story.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE HOPKINS: Five, four, three, two, one, liftoff. We have liftoff of Max the dog, the first dog to visit the International Space Station.

INSKEEP: That's NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins reading a children's book on the International Space Station last year. Hopkins was taking part in an educational program called Story Time From Space.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HOPKINS: I absolutely love to read. And I can't think of a better location to read this next story with the cupola behind us. That's our big observation window that looks down onto the Earth. And today's story is "Max Goes To The International Space Station."

INSKEEP: Just as Mr. Hopkins had gone. The founder of this educational project is Patricia Tribe, the former director of education at Space Center Houston.

PATRICIA TRIBE: The kids are not only hearing the stories, but they're seeing the astronaut floating. They actually could imagine themselves being that astronaut up on space.

INSKEEP: Tribe shares the videos with schools to help educators teach scientific concepts, like gravity and freefall. Now she wants to expand the program and have the astronauts record videos of themselves conducting experiments in space. This program was going to send custom equipment to help the astronauts do those experiments and demonstrate concepts, like how light travels, but then a problem came up. The plan was to send the equipment up in the SpaceX rocket back in June, but the rocket exploded shortly after liftoff. No lives were lost, but $70,000 worth of equipment was.

TRIBE: Just like, darn it, so now what are we going to do with the program?

INSKEEP: Tribe says with donations and with help from NASA, they hope to get the project off the ground. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.