Years before wealthy billionaires flew to the edge of space, a brave ‘bear-stronaut’ called Babbage was launched from a hydrogen filled weather balloon at a record breaking height of 39km / 24 miles above the Earth. This ‘paw-some’ event took place in Berkshire, UK on August 26th 2013 when ‘bear-stronaut Babbage was sent up in a specially made launch capsule in an attempt to recreate Felix Baumgartner’s famous highest manned balloon ascent and freefall a year earlier.
The man behind Babbage’s adventure was high altitude balloon expert, Dave Akerman. Inside Babbage’s plump round tummy, Mr Ackerman placed a small Raspberry Pi computer to record details of his journey back to Earth. Although the flight was successful with Babbage just beating Baumgartner’s record of 38,969m, things did not all go according to plan. As Babbage was descending, mission control ‘embearassing’ lost 3G communication as a result of their SIM card running out of credit! Luckily, the engineers managed to add a top-up and contact with the ‘bear-stronaut’ was soon restored!
Cameras located in Babbage’s capsule and eye socket managed to capture these striking images of his descent back to planet Earth.
Commenting on Babbage’s spectacular flight, Mr Akerman said that both the launch and recovery had been ‘textbook’. The whole flight took just over 3½ hours with Babbage taking off at 12.25pm and landing back on solid ground at around 4pm.
When interviewed afterwards about his ‘paw-some achievement’, Babbage said ‘I was once was a bear cub with a dream looking up to the stars. Now, I’m a grown up bear who has looked down on the Earth. To all little cubs out there, remember nothing is ‘im-paws-ible’, if you set your mind to it!!!