Lego In Space

Oh come on now, I just had to blog about it, its cute and while not 100% unique (other kids have done similar stuff), it is still a first for Lego. In fact, it must be a wet dream for their advertising department, you cannot buy publicity like this.

Least you missed it, the news is that two Canadian 17 year olds, Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, boosted a tiny 2 inch tall Legonaut plus camera up into space  from a Toronto soccer field. Using a 22 foot (7 m) diameter helium balloon it climbed to a height of about 85,000 feet, or 16 miles (25 kilometers), where in then burst in the stratosphere. Their Styrofoam capsule then parachuted back to Earth.

“After endless hours of hard work, we managed to capture stunning views of our atmosphere and put a ‘Lego’ man into near space!” said the ambitious teens who are 12th graders at the Agincourt Collegiate Institute.

A summary YouTube video (below) documenting the entire voyage was then posted.

You can also find them on Facebook here. Apparently a longer video is in the works.

Is this really a first for Lego? Actually no, several Lego toys are constantly flying even higher above the Earth at this very moment aboard the International Space Station as part of an educational outreach effort by NASA and Lego, but while that has not had much PR impact, this truly has. Lego have written them a nice little note of congratulations …

We are always amazed by the creative ways in which Lego fans use our products, and humbled by how many unsuspecting places we appear, like attached to a helium balloon in . . . space,” said Michael McNally, brand relations director.

“We’re thrilled to know that Lego products inspire children like Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad to be creative, experiment and see what they can accomplish.”

Cannon, the maker of the cameras they used, also quickly jumped aboard the PR bandwagon  by announcing that they wanted to give Ho and Muhammad top-of-the-line cameras to “continue that creativity and inspiration.”

Perhaps you are a tad worried that this was a one way tip, well fret no longer, because I can not only warmly assure you that no Legonauts were harmed during this voyage, but I can also provide you with evidence to verify that. Here is our intrepid Legonaut standing safely outside his Starship USS Styrofoam inspecting it for damage after boldly going where no Lego has gone before .

With such success, we must have a press conference, right? And so here are the guys themselves. Once their story hit the news they were deluged with interview requests from media outlets all around the world.

“I’ve been bombarded all morning. I feel like I’m their manager now,” said Lecourgos Papathanasakis, the principal of Agincourt Collegiate Institute, where Ho and Muhammad are in Grade 12. “They’ve definitely got star status.”

Muhammad’s earth and space science teacher, Steven Tors, said: “I’ve been teaching for 22 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” pointing out that the students built the balloon for fun, not for a school project.

Some concern has been expressed regarding the potential danger to aircraft, a pilot might not have enough reaction time if such a balloon popped up unexpectedly. However, they have done nothing wrong here, the boys did consider all this and searched online to make sure they were informed about the proper use of weather balloons and weren’t doing anything dangerous or illegal. Unmanned balloon flights are not governed by the Canadian Aviation Regulations, but Transport Canada should be informed ahead of any such launch to ensure aviation safety is not threatened. The primary concern now is that having seen it done, other kids will be thinking, “cool”, and start launching all over the place. The boys themselves are quoted as saying …

“Try not to copy us, pursue other creative interests and do your own thing and follow the rules.”

It is nice to see that the Canadian Space Program is indeed making great strides.

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