The four girls' hopes were dashed as they watched the explosion via live satellite.
"I was really sad, seeing all of my work explode made me feel really sad that all of my hard work went into pieces," says Farah Sabah.
But they didn't let that bump in the road stop them from shooting for the stars and, finally, Saturday morning their dreams finally took flight. A second supply ship was successfully launched.
WATCH: Girls learn their experiment will refly at no extra cost
The girls behind the project say they hope officials are watching back home in Iraq, where they have suffered several hardships.
"We are hoping to send a message to Iraq to make them see we are young and we are doing a project like this to clean the water," says Regina Alsabagh.
They say watching the video of the supply ship explosion hit close to home.
"It's really hard [to watch] because there are lots of explosions and a lot of people die every single day, and we're like walking zombies," says Sabah.
The families of Sabah, Alsabagh, Maryam Kafra and Israa Alfadhli saught refuge in metro Detroit after facing religious persecution.
"When I was in Iraq, three or four men came to our house and they told my dad if we didn't leave our home and everything, they will cut our head. They will just kill us," says Alsabagh.
The eighth graders are still working on their English, but incredibly, were able to come up with a science experiment tackling a problem that transcends all languages.
While violence plagued their everyday lives in Iraq, they also struggled to find safe water to drink.
The Madison School District submitted the girls' experiment on using Iodine to clean E-coli from water in a zero-gravity environment to the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program. After a rigorous process, it won a spot on the commercial supply rocket to space.
Now, if all goes according to plan, their experiment will arrive at the International Space Station later this week to be tested by astronauts.