Two young girls from Seattle are making headlines after sending a toy and a picture of their cat into the stratosphere under a helium weather balloon.
Kimberly, 8, and Rebecca, 10, started out by sketching their designs at the kitchen table. They ordered a helium weather balloon, flight computer, and parachute and took to the garage to start building their spacecraft.
After an attempt to use PVC pipe proved to be too heavy for the helium weather balloon, the young ladies went back to the drawing board. They found that some scrap wood and broken archery arrow shafts were just the ticket to the stratosphere. They mounted some cameras onto the craft and got to researching the perfect launch site.
After weeks of effort, it was time to visit the edge of space.
The weather nearly postponed the big September 5 event, but the young girls waited for the skies to clear and with the help of dad, filled their helium weather balloon roadside and assembled the craft.
In the finishing touches, Kimberly and Rebecca attached a picture of their cat (named Loki) and a Lego R2-D2 toy to a stick that was mounted in front of one of the cameras. The Loki Lego Launcher was now complete.
The Loki Lego Launcher ascended to 78,000 feet – twice as high as the flight path of commercial airplanes – and hit a peak speed of 68.351 mph. The flight lasted 4 hours and 20 minutes, at which point the helium weather balloon burst and eased down into a field in central Washington.
Want more statistics? Check out the girls flight projections, flight data, temperature and altitude readings, GPS coordinates. (Prepare to be really, really impressed.)
The girls tracked down the popped helium weather balloon using the onboard GPS system. (And to the owner of the property, they’re sorry about hopping the fence.)
Their video has already racked up nearly 50,000 views at the time of this writing – less than a week since the video was posted.
We don’t know for sure, but these two budding scientists may be the youngest duo ever to design and hand launch a helium weather balloon into the stratosphere. Quite the accomplishment regardless, considering these ladies are just a few years removed from kindergarten!
Congrats to both of you girls!