It has been called the 'Final Frontier' and, as a source of fascination for humans since the beginning of recorded history, space presents an enormous challenge and a world of infinite possibility. Two teenagers from Canada have shown that you don't need vast amounts of money, or even recycled oxygen and water, to travel outside Earth's atmosphere. With a lot of patience, some sound science and an appropriate mascot, space exploration is possible!
Matthew Ho and Asad Muhammad successfully launched a Lego figurine into space and, perhaps more remarkably, have captured the entire journey on camera. The video shows the modestly dressed Lego man moving up, up, up and away from the ground until the curve of the Earth can be seen behind him. Perhaps the strangest thing about watching the journey, aside from the spaceman’s never-changing smile, is the silence that surrounds him once he breaks through the clouds and out of Earth’s atmosphere. The platform on which he stands travelled three times higher than the average cruising altitude of a commercial plane and nothing but rustling from the balloon attached can be heard.
Make Your Own Lego Astronaut:
- A Styrofoam capsule with two cameras inside. The warmth needed to prevent the cameras breaking at minus 20 degrees Celsius in the stratosphere came from chemical hand-warmers and fluffy green polyester.
- A helium-filled latex weather balloon with extreme stretching capability to compensate for lower air pressure as the craft moves away from Earth, allowing the gas inside to expand up to ten times its original volume.
- A parachute for the capsule to return made from rip-stop nylon.
- The perfect length of quiver-reducing rope. The capsule must be far enough away from the balloon and parachute to balance and stay steady despite moving, whilst being held firm for descent following burst altitude.
- A GPS tracker, to be placed inside the capsule. After moving out of range of phone towers at 7km above the Earth, the return of Legoman was announced as he reappeared on a GPS-enabled mobile phone.
- The right launch conditions. Legoman took off from a football pitch and landed back in Earth 97 minutes later just 122 km away. This was thanks to careful planning and patience by looking at the weather systems.
- Burst Altitude
- The point at which a helium-filled balloon will burst due to the expansion of the gas inside from decreasing air pressure.
- The second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, above the troposphere and below the mesosphere.