Space oddities set for launch

Radio presenters prepare to head into space

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 07:39 04/07/2014
More FM space
DAVID UNWIN/Fairfax NZ

TO INFINITY: More FM presenters, from left, Renee Pink and Mike West, station listener Kelly Smith and presenter Gareth Pringle will get a taste of space when their bobblehead doppelgangers are launched 22 kilometres into the atmosphere.

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Palmerston North radio presenters will take aim at the great unknown next week with a mission into space.

For the past few months More FM and Massey University's physics department have been working on a space project to launch the first Manawatu people into space, but the closest they could get was to send bobble head replicas of themselves.

More FM morning show presenters Mike West, Gareth Pringle, Renee Pink and More FM listener Kelly Smith have had replica bobbleheads made.

On the first sunny day next week the bobbleheads will be launched 22 kilometres up into the atmosphere by a weather balloon.

"We've always wanted to go to space," Pink said.

"For Renee and I, it's our mission to get into space and this is the first step," West said.

Massey University physics tutor Stephen Keen has been working in the Physics and Astronomy Society to create the device that will launch the bobbleheads. "I wouldn't say that we were in space but we're getting close."

The bobbleheads will be secured in a box with a camera attached to a parachute.

A helium balloon, 1 metre in diameter, will launch the device.

The balloon is expected to expand to 5m by the time it reaches 20km.

"As it goes up in the atmosphere it will gradually expand and it will get to the point where it basically bursts," Keen said.

"The main goal is to get some nice, pretty pictures of where the blue sky of the atmosphere stops and we can see the blackness of space starting. We want to get to that boundary.

"It's kind of amazing how close space is, in a way, if you could imagine driving 100kmh in your car upward then it would only take you three hours or so to get into space."

Keen said the group had been working on the project since March but they had not been able to do a complete test.

"We can't do any proper, proper tests because helium is quite expensive.

"We've seen lots of YouTube videos of other people around the world doing it. We had no idea how to get started initially."

A GPS device will be used to track where they fall and a helicopter could be used to retrieve them as there is no way of telling where they will fall.

"If we can't locate it we lose out on all the video and all the money we spent on cameras."

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- Manawatu Standard

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