*Reprinted on behalf of SciTech
On 3 February 2016, Scitech launched a weather balloon into the stratosphere with a very special mini-astronaut onboard.
The launch was part of Scitech’s ‘Get Your Face Near Space’ competition and the lucky first place winner got their photo stuck onto the mini-astronaut bound for near space.
Perth local Ethan beat 3,500 entrants to win this unique competition and was so excited that, on launch day, the 11-year-old sent a special message to Scitech telling the team how much he was looking forward to seeing himself near space!
After waiting for optimum flight conditions, the Scitech team arrived at Perth Airport at dawn to launch the balloon with the help of the Bureau of Meteorology.
Over the 1.5hrs flight, mini-astronaut Ethan travelled 60km across WA, reached a height of 28km and experienced -50C temperatures.
GPS coordinates told the team that the weather balloon had landed in the Avon Valley National Park.
The Scitech team put their hiking boots on, and after 2.5hrs and 10km of walking through dense bush and on ever diminishing trails, found the equipment and mini-astronaut Ethan safe and sound in a tree.
This has been a wonderful mission for Scitech and a great success. Through it we have explored the science of weather, space exploration and the joy of maths. We’ve had the privilege of seeing our beautiful state from an astronaut’s point of view and have taken people from Perth, and around the world, on this journey with us.