While the Star Wars saga takes place long, long ago in a fictional galaxy far, far away, a couple of fans in the U.K. did send an X-wing into close orbit to Earth — well, a model of an X-wing, that is. The pair, Matt Kingsnorth and Phil St. Pier, pulled the stunt in hopes of scoring tickets to the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Kingsnorth and St. Pier, who are collectively known as Project Helium Tears, launched a Revell model X-wing into orbit using a weather balloon. The custom contraption reached 118,000 feet, where it recorded pictures of Earth with an X-wing floating across it. The astronomy buffs spent £1,200 (a little over $1,800) on the project, which took six months to complete.
The main goal of the project was to photograph the Earth from the edge of space, Kingsnorth told the BBC. Adding the X-wing was actually secondary — a secret until the film was uploaded. The reason was, Kingsnorth says, “I just really wanted to see an X-wing up in space.” The rig contained a camera and a Raspberry Pi computer that was used to collect data and transmit GPS info to the ground crew. Bringing the whole thing back to the ground wasn’t as smooth as in the movies, though — the rig and craft apparently broke apart during re-entry.
While the project achieved its main mission, the duo hopes it might catch the attention of one J.J. Abrams, director of the new Star Wars trilogy. The film was edited like a Star Wars film (it even calls out the director’s name), complete with scrolling credits asking for free tickets. There’s no word if Abrams saw the clip, but it never hurts to try.
This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time, that Kingsnorth and St. Pier conduct a space flight. On their Twitter and Facebook feeds — where you can find more details and view photos — they’re already asking people what they would like to see get sent up into space next.