osh Colwell has experienced rocket launches differently than most others.
Sure, he says, he “enjoys the spectacle” that comes with a powerful rocket taking off from a Space Coast launch pad. But in 2014, when he sent an experiment into space aboard a SpaceX rocket, Colwell couldn’t help but be nervous because he knew that any movement or rattle could destroy the project he had worked years to set up.
“You mentally go through all of the various things that can go wrong,” said Colwell, a University of Central Florida professor whose experiment aims to increase understanding of the solar system’s origin by studying slow-speed collisions between dust particles in zero gravity. “You imagine what the experiment will do up until the moment you actually have it in space. That can be a somewhat anxious feeling.”
In the end, everything went fine.