They'd come a long way to watch a year's worth of work soar to the stars aboard an unmanned SpaceX rocket, but for the Minnesota students gathered at NASA's Cape Canaveral on Sunday, it was not to be.
The "Dragon" rocket burst in mid-air just minutes after it took off from the Florida site, CNN reports. It was headed to the International Space Station (ISS) on a supply mission.
On board was a science experiment from a team of students at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis.
According to a news release, their work focused on slowing the "rapid growth" of bacteria in space, where it is especially aggressive compared to how it behaves on Earth.
For one of the students who attended the launch, it was an emotional end to a potentially important project.
"It was definitely incredibly disappointing ... I would have loved to see the fruition of all my team's work in the past year, but I'm grateful for the opportunity and proud of the incredible work we accomplished," student Hazen Mayo told KSTP.
Watch the explosion:
This embed is invalid
Sara Stone Jacobsen, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement at Minnehaha, told BringMeTheNews it was the third time time one of the school's science projects had found its way aboard a rocket.
One of those, an experiment launched aboard a similar SpaceX mission in 2013, involved the effects of weightlessness on paint polymers.
The school says such projects are a regular part of the curriculum, and that students will have an opportunity to see another science experiment fly to ISS next year.
Meahwhile, FOX 9 says an investigation into the cause of the blast that claimed the rocket this weekend is now underway.
SpaceX is a private company contracted by NASA to carry out supply missions.