The mission was the result of the hard work and ingenuity of friends Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, who worked on their project during free time on weekends. It took them four months to complete and cost just $400.
The space-bound contraption the two 17-year-olds came up with comprised an $85 weather balloon, a homemade parachute, a Styrofoam box, three point-and-shoot cameras, a wide-angle video camera, and a cell phone loaded with a GPS app so they’d be able to find the thing when it (hopefully) returned to Earth.
The finishing touch came in the form of a Lego man holding the Canadian flag strapped to a gangplank attached to their creation.
Now that it was built, the question was: would it get off the ground? Well, there was only one way to find out.
Once a particularly helpful website had calculated that—according to their contraption’s design and the prevailing winds of the day—it wouldn’t land across the border in the US, the pair decided to go for launch at a soccer pitch in Newmarket, near Toronto.
After turning on the cameras and cell phone, all they had to do was ensure the Lego man was in position, inflate the weather balloon and let it go.
At an altitude of just over four miles the GPS signal was, as expected, lost. But then 90 minutes later, Ho’s iPad signaled that the Lego man and his craft had returned safely to Earth, and even better, its location was only 75 miles from the launch point.
Ho and Muhammad picked up the Lego man, and the rest of the gear, the following weekend. They worked out that the Lego man had reached a height of about 80,000 feet in 65 minutes, and took just over half-an-hour to return to Earth.
They “started screaming” when they saw the footage their video camera had captured. Indeed, it shows some spectacular shots from high above the planet, complete with flag-holding Lego man.
Speaking to the Toronto Star about Ho and Muhammad’s successful venture into space, Dr. Michael Reid, a University of Toronto astrophysics professor, said: “It shows a tremendous degree of resourcefulness. For two 17-year-olds to accomplish this on their own is pretty impressive.”
See what a Lego man in space looks like in the fabulous video below:
[Source: Toronto Star]