Was Santa making a practice run in space? Balloon takes sleigh to new heights

by Super User
As if he didn’t already have enough ground to cover, it looks as though Santa has gone galactic. But wait just a moment… surely there aren’t enough presents for the whole universe on that sleigh? And where are the rest of the reindeer to help Rudolph? In fact, the real Father Christmas was probably hard at work in Lapland while this toy version was sent into space. But there was still a fair bit of Christmas magic involved in making this flight happen. With the elves all busy helping the real Santa, it took council worker Mark Ireland, 26, and his girlfriend Cassie Phelps to get his miniature counterpart airborne. The pair attached a high altitude weather balloon to their model Santa, along with a camera and a GPS tracker, and watched it rise to dizzying heights. The sleigh launched from the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and flew to 100,000ft above the Earth's surface as it started the journey around the globe. But the trip came to a disastrous end when the helium filled balloon - which cost around £50 - popped and its passengers started to fall to the ground. The flight was made possible by the pair of science fans, who attached him to a high altitude weather balloon. Mr Ireland and Miss Phelps also installed a camera which captured incredible views of the planet's curvature as the they flew. A parachute then opened and it slowed down before landing 70 miles away in Yeovil. Miss Phelps, 27, said: 'It is a personal project which we have been working on. We watched a Lego man go into space on YouTube and thought 'let's have a go'. Mid-flight problems: His journey came to an end when the high-altitude balloon burst 'We started sending normal cameras into space and, with Christmas coming up, decided to send Santa into sky. 'We got clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority and launched on December 1. It set off from the Forest of Dean and about two-and-a-half hours later it landed in Yeovil. 'It reached just short of 100,000ft which is the stratosphere - it is nearly but not quite space. We managed to get shots of the curvature of the earth so we were really pleased.'

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