LONDON – Four teddy bears, fully decked out in custom-made spacesuits, were launched to the edge of space this week as part of a British university experiment.
Blasting off from Cambridge University's Churchill College on Monday, they were attached to a helium balloon and fitted with multiple cameras, a GPS receiver, flight computer and radio for the two-hour nine-minute flight, which saw them rise 30 kilometres (18.8 miles) above sea level.
The spacesuits were designed by local schoolchildren, as part of a project to engage youths in science and engineering, organised by the Cambridge University Spaceflight student club.
CU Spaceflight said the aim of the experiment was to find out which of the four spacesuits, each designed by a different group of students, best insulated the cuddly toys from the -53 degrees Celcius (-63 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures.
"We want to offer young people the opportunity to get involved in the space industry whilst still at school and show that real-life science is something that is open to everybody," said Iain Waugh, CU Spaceflight's chief aeronautical engineer.
"High altitude balloon flights are a fantastic way of encouraging interest in science. They are easy to understand, and produce amazing results."
A Cambridge University spokeswoman noted: "No treasured possessions were endangered in this experiment."