Lego spaceman lands near Malmesbury
9:00am Saturday 1st September 2012 in News
A TINY Lego man bearing a Paralympic “flame” landed near Malmesbury after a trip to the edge of space.
The official torch lighting for the London Paralympics was held last week after flames were kindled on Britain’s four highest national peaks.
But a group of Bristol aerospace engineers, Dave Curtis, Andrew Graham and Clive Driscoll, decided to perform a torch relay of their own when they realised one place the flame had never been was space.
In their spare time the trio loaded a Lego man carrying a Lego flame, a stills camera and an HD video camera into a large polystyrene box fitted with a parachute and then launched it into Earth’s outer atmosphere using a helium-filled meteorological weather balloon from Tewkesbury.
Three hours later it floated back to earth laden with spectacular images of its epic journey.
Chris described the unorthodox mission as a complete success.
“The images we recovered were far better than we could have ever imagined. Seeing the final curvature of the Earth blew my mind and made it all worthwhile. A great homage to the start of the Paralympic games.” he said.
The camera was programme to take pictures every 10 seconds throughout the flight which reached 75,000 feet before the balloon burst. The payload dropped in freefall until the air was thick enough for the parachute to be deployed.
Two GPS equipped mobile phones texted their location to the engineers who had to get Civil Aviation Authority clearance before the launch to make sure their experiment was not a danger to aircraft.
“A simulation was run before launch which assessed the weather and predicted roughly where the balloon would land, it wasn’t far off from the original prediction of Oxford.
“Choosing the right weather conditions was crucial, a simulation run only a week before showed the payload expected to land in Norway,” added Dave.