In Seattle over this Labor Day Weekend, two curious young girls launched a homemade aircraft, hoping to reach the edge of space. And they did. Kimberly and Rebecca Yeung’s spacecraft, made from wooden triangles and broken arrow shafts, rose 78,000 feet – twice as high as a commercial aircraft – carrying a picture of their cat next to a Lego R2-D2.
Kimberly, 8, and Rebecca, 10, are the Seattle sisters with a penchant for space and technology. Their craft, named the Loki Lego Launcher (for the cat and the Star Wars robot, obviously) was lifted into the sky with a helium-filled weather balloon when it launched near Stratford, a town in central Washington about 180 miles west of Seattle. The hand-built spacecraft flew for four hours and 20 minutes, traveling up to 70 mph, before landing some 50 miles and touching down nearly intact.
The girls said that recovering the craft after its landing was the most exciting part of the whole project. Rebecca was particularly enthused about the landing site. “We were very lucky because our spacecraft landed right by a huge pile of cow poop,” she told GeekWire, “but it didn’t land in it.”
The Yeung sisters originally decided to do this project more or less for fun. The duo found plans on High Altitude Science for a high-altitude weather balloon, along with equipment like a parachute and the data recorder. Although a big motivation behind the launch was to get the craft to reach the upper atmosphere, the girls also wanted to record data like temperature, pressure and altitude, and – of course – video to prove the whole thing really happened.
Images via Kimberly and Rebecca Yeung