I’m always trying to come up with new and exciting missions… but sending cupcakes to space, really? I’m pretty sure Amy thought I had officially gone crazy when I told her about this idea. (Amy is the best, she not only lets me try all of these crazy ideas out, she helps me along the way.) By now you should have heard of Felix Baumgartner and him skydiving from a helium balloon at the edge of space, why not send a cupcake up there? I started doing research about 2 months ago and started purchasing all of the supplies needed for our cupcake space mission. Our vehicle was an insulated lunch bag loaded with equipment. We had 2 digital video cameras, a portable battery pack and an iPhone for GPS location. It can get as cold as 60 degrees below 0 in the stratosphere so we put a couple hand warmers in the bag as well. We had a 12 foot weather balloon that we would fill with helium to lift our craft and a small parachute to slow it down when it was returning to earth.
The plan was to send two cupcakes and two cameras up in our mission. There was so much that could go wrong, we figured it would increase our probability of returning good footage. As it turned out, this was a great idea. The entire mission was planned around our Happiness Campaign and our goal was to launch with enough time to get some extra attention for our KickStarter project. Our first launch date was scrapped, there were too many people at our planned launch site. We were ready to go the next day, at a new location. We had two small helium tanks, but those did not have enough helium in them. We emptied the tanks, but the balloon was not even half full. Being in the middle of a helium shortage was not helping our mission at all. After a few phone calls, we were able to secure a jumbo helium tank and had our new lunch date set. Tuesday, November 6… election day. The kids were out of school that day, so it was perfect.
We went back to the ideal launch site we found, but it was locked I guess it is closed during the week. We got a location and started filling our balloon. The cupcakes were secured in place and the video cameras were started. After about 7 minutes of filling, Amy noticed a small hole in the balloon. Amy had to run home and get the backup balloon (that she did not know I purchased) and got back as quickly as possible. We tried to get the helium from the first balloon into the second balloon, but that was not working. We started filling the second balloon from the tank and hoped there was enough helium to lift our craft off the ground.
We actually had more than enough helium to fill the second balloon, and there was still more in the tank. We tied the balloon off and attached it to our spacecraft. I felt it trying to take off, but I wondered if it was only the wind. Our daughter Kayla asked, “You going to let it go?” So that’s what I did, I let it go and we watched it quickly rise to the south east!
We watched the balloon until it disappeared into the bright blue sky. Now that it was actually in the air, I could only hope nothing else went wrong, and there were so many things that could have went wrong. (What if a bald eagle at the cupcakes? That is just one of the many crazy thoughts that go on in the mind of Trevor Goodwin.) At this point, there was not much more we could do, just sit and wait.
I tried to track the spacecraft immediately after we launched in the find my iPhone App, but it was moving too quickly to send back a reading. We continued on with our day as normal and I would check the app every 30 minutes or so. Finally, I received an email saying the phone was located and we were excited to see where it was.
The balloon actually landed in Lebanon, MO about 160 miles from where we launched it. It seemed like it landed in some trees in the middle of a farm. We already had plans to go to Branson for the weekend, and Lebanon was not that far away. Our new problem, how would we get our spacecraft back from the middle of an farm. I would have to knock on someone’s door and ask if I could look around their property for a cupcake carrying spaceship. This was going to be fun!
Luckily for us, we got a call from Candi saying she found our balloon thingie! I told her we were very excited and would be there the next day to pick it up. She said it looked like it was in pretty good shape, but when I asked her about the cupcakes she said they were nowhere to be found. (Some lucky animals got to enjoy two gourmet cupcakes.)
We went and picked up our spacecraft, Candi was so nice. There were hours and hours of footage to look through and we were very excited with what we saw. We are working on having the videos edited and we will post them at a later time, in the mean time enjoy our pictures from what we think is the first cupcake that went to the edge of space!