Children make all kinds of ridiculous requests, and sometimes parents agree to them, even if they don’t plan on keeping their promises. But not Nicholas L., a French father-of-three who in order not to let his kids down actually sent a couple of their toys into outer space.
Last December, Nicholas’ three children asked him to send their favorite toys into space. Without giving much thought to what he was getting himself into, the young father agreed. Later he realized he didn’t want to be the kind of parent who disappoints his kids by not keeping his word, so he embarked on an incredible project to fulfill their wish. In the beginning, the Frenchman had no idea how he was going to pull it off, but after spending four months researching online he had a list of necessary equipment to fly the toys into outer space and retrieve them, as per his kids request.
He ordered a weather balloon from a US army surplus store, and had the parachute and GPS tracker shipped all he way from Hong Kong. He was ready for the big test, but he needed proof to show his kids he had actually sent their toys into outer space, so he installed two GoPro waterproof cameras on his DIY flying device to record the entire journey.
On a sunny day in July, Nicholas L. took his whole family to the outskirts of their village in Ain, France for the big take off. He inflated the balloon with Ballonium (a special mix of helium and air), attached it to a basket carrying his kids two favorite toys, a Hello Kitty and a Bad Piggy from the popular Angry Birds video game, an iPhone and an external battery, and let it fly. The toys flew all the way up to 20,000 meters above sea level, before coming back down, 50 kilometers from the launch site, and the GoPro cameras recorded the whole trip.
Recovering the toys was the hardest part of the project, because the GPS tracker had been damaged by the cold at high altitude and failed to indicate the right coordinates. Finally, after driving 300 kilometers, the family finally found the precious cargo in a cornfield. Now the kids can proudly say they are the owners of two toys that have traveled to where no other toy has gone before.