Space project brings home the bacon
Everyone knows pigs cannot fly – but this piece of bacon streaked across the sky and became the first rasher to be sent into space.
From a launchpad in north Wiltshire, the spiritual home of England’s bacon industry, the rasher soared to 18 miles above the Earth, before successfully ending its mission 60 miles away on a barbecue.
The madcap idea of sending bacon into space belongs to Dave Langdale and Chris Fielden from London-based firm Fly On The Wall, who wanted to showcase just how good their cameras and surveillance equipment are.
So they created a bright pink pig-shaped spacecraft, named Pigasus, attached it to a weather balloon and launched it from the outfield at Chippenham Cricket Club in Wiltshire.
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Chippenham was chosen not just for its historic links to the bacon industry. The spot was the perfect place to ensure, with the prevailing jet stream, that the Pigasus craft would be able to bring home the bacon, literally, onto dry land again. And once retrieved – by a group of bemused motocross riders in a field near Basingstoke – it was eaten in a celebration barbecue by the successful baconauts.
“We wanted to do it because we have a love of bacon and a love of space, and we wanted to show how good our high-definition cameras were, even in space,” said Chris. “It took far longer than we thought it would to plan and work out how to do it – for instance, you have to get permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to send up a weather balloon.
“It went just as we’d planned. The piece of bacon and Pigasus itself went up to 90,000ft, that’s 18 miles, and we got some great shots. We attached a phone with a GPS device inside so we would roughly be able to work out where it landed again, but we also included a note asking someone to call us if they found it. The wind predictions beforehand reckoned it would go up and then be blown about as far as Basingstoke, so after we launched it, we went to Newbury and waited. We were worried because it is a huge amount of farmland around Basingstoke and we thought we’d never find it,” he added.
But a bemused father and son, Damien and Josh Barnes, were out on a motocross track at the Tongham Motor Club, when they saw Pigasus parachute down to Earth in front of them three hours after lift-off in Chippenham.
“They really didn’t know what to think, and even after they phoned the number and got hold of us, they still couldn’t get their heads around a piece of bacon attached to a pink spaceship parachuting down in front of them,” said Dave.
“The best thing was the bacon still had space ice crystals on it, but we took it home, cooked it on a barbecue and ate it – it was delicious,” he added.