Space mission ends in a tree

Last updated 11:00 19/07/2014
Gareth Pringle
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ
SAFE LANDING: MoreFM presenter Gareth Pringle with the space invader ‘‘bobbleheads’’ after their trip to space.

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Cheering erupted as the Manawatu space invaders blasted off for their intrepid journey into the atmosphere.

Families battled the cold yesterday morning to see the launch of the More FM space invaders mission to space.

More FM and Massey University's physics department had been working on the space project to launch the bobblehead replicas of themselves into space since the start of the year.

The bobbleheads were sent 22 kilometres up into the atmosphere by a giant weather balloon filled with helium.

Haylee Colville, 5, and Kaden Colville, 7, were all smiles as the balloon took off.

"I've never ever seen a rocket before," Haylee said.

Up and up it went until it disappeared from sight.

A helicopter and a GPS system were used to track the device.

Kate Macgregor and her family were up early get a glimpse of the take-off.

"We've been hanging out, waiting for them to get to launch day."

The bobbleheads were secured in a box with a camera attached to a parachute. They landed about two hours after liftoff, just east of Dannevirke.

West said there was a bit of a challenge retrieving the gear once it landed.

"It landed up a tree, 30 metres above the ground.

"HELiPRO had to send another team out . . . they used a winch to drop the person so that he could grab the device off the tree."

West said two of the bobbleheads had gone missing and the remaining two were "a little worse for wear".

Massey University physics tutor Stephen Keen said the main goal was "to get some nice, pretty pictures of where the blue sky of the atmosphere stops and we can see the blackness of space starting".

A movie will be made about the space invaders adventure, which will hopefully explain what happened to the two bobbleheads, West said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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