Amateur Astronauts Sent the First Doughnut into Space — And It's All on Video
On Wednesday, a group of Swedish amateur astronauts sent the first doughnut to the edge of space using a weather balloon, marking the first move in space exploration to make Homer Simpson proud.
That's right, 66 years after a monkey was put in space and 54 years after the first man went into space, we've officially put a doughnut into space.
"I wanted to send something that nobody had done before, that is why we choose a doughnut," Alexander Jönsson, a member of the Stratolys group from Lysekil, Sweden, told Mic via email.
You can't just send pastries into space, and you definitely can't do it for free in Sweden, so Stratolys took the vessel — pretty much a couple of cameras, a styrofoam box, a GPS tracker and a doughnut covered in enamel paint and glued to an acrylic glass plank — and launched from Askim, Norway, where Jönsson wasn't required to pay for a permit and where the regulations on such amateur astronautics are somewhat looser. "They did not ask so much about the payload!" he told Mic.
On the video, things look simple enough, but it took three months of planning and two weeks to build, ending with a $1,134.47 grand total.
"I emailed a lot of companies asking for sponsoring," Jönsson said. "Eventually I got two, Mat.se and Air Liquide. Together with my brother Benjamin did we built the 'payload box' that would have the cameras and GPS ... and the doughnut."
The video shows the doughnut rising from a park in Norway, high above the ground, until finally the weather balloon reaches its highest point and explodes, sending the whole package plummeting to a lake below.
"Five hours and 137 kilometers later," a caption on the YouTube video reads, "and a phone call to the Swedish Sea Rescue Society in Åmål, who gladly helped us locate and bring back our payload."
Considering what this is — young guys sending things to the stratosphere — the $1,000-odd price point is pretty remarkable. They aren't even the first to try to reach the doormat of outer space without national space program funding.
An Austrian skydiver who dove faster than the speed of sound leaped from a balloon 24 miles above the ground. And GoPro cameras have been the chief passengers in more than a few of these weather balloon flights.
As materials get cheaper, the ability to break new ground falls into the hands of the ambitious, not just the wealthy. Things like this, whether the experiment is done with a person, a doughnut or just a camera, open the gate to the future of DIY exploration — which is exactly how most discoveries start anyway.
While the subject matter is a little silly, the efforts of a bunch of 22-year-olds produced a video enabling those of us stuck on the surface with a point of view reserved for astronauts.
And now, apparently, doughnuts.