Thursday, December 11, 2008

Teddy bears blast off into space

Four teddies have taken a giant leap for bear-kind after being blasted to the edge of space by university boffins.

The cuddly toys were attached to a helium balloon and launched 30,000-metres into the atmosphere from Churchill College in Cambridge.

They were fitted out with space suits designed by schoolchildren from the city as the toys braved freezing temperatures.

The computer-controlled quartet, who were fitted with a GPS system and camera to track their progress, landed safely just north of Ipswich, Suffolk, following their pioneering flight of just over two hours.

Cambridge University said the project was part of an initiative to "engage local schoolchildren in science and engineering".

Aiyana Stead, 12, one of the pupils who helped make the space suits, said: "This was a really fun thing to do. The best bit was when we set the balloon off with the bears."

Kane Robbins, also 12, added: "I really enjoyed launching the teddy bear into space."
The project was overseen by the Cambridge University spaceflight team - a student-run society launched two years ago.

Ed Moore, one of its 10 members, said: "There can be few more worthwhile things for us to do than to try and provide that spark for the current generation of school kids. We had a fantastic time working with the kids."

A university spokeswoman added: "No treasured possessions were endangered in this experiment."

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