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article imageVideo: Toronto teens launch Lego man into space

By Kim I. Hartman     Jan 27, 2012 in Science
Toronto - Two Canadian teenagers found themselves in the media spotlight after they launched a Lego man attached to a weather balloon nearly into space, capturing amazing images from 80,000 feet above Earth.
Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, 17-year-old Agincourt Collegiate Institute students, were deluged with media requests from around the world after The Star featured the stunning footage this week and shared their story.
“I’ve been bombarded all morning. I feel like I’m their manager now,” said Lecourgos Papathanasakis, principal of Agincourt Collegiate Institute. “They’ve definitely got star status.”
The rise to stardom begin after the young men spent four months of Saturdays, and $400. making a homemade parachute to attach to a weather balloon for a ride into the stratosphere. They attached the device to a Styrofoam box containing four cameras, programmed to take a photo every 20 seconds. After checking to see if their creative project was legal, they glued a gangplank to the box and added a Lego man holding a Canadian flag and waited for the weather conditions to be just right for a controlled launch and safe return to Earth, reports the Star.
Using a website that estimates the landing spot of a balloon based on current weather, launch coordinates and balloon specs, the Toronto students patiently waited for their opportunity to realize their dream.
Their patience was rewarded when the craft successfully climbed approximately "80,000 feet into the air on a flight that lasted one hour and five minutes before the balloon exploded, beginning the Lego man’s 32-minute descent," according to the Star.
The friends were able to track the device using a GPS app inside a cellphone. They retrieved the device from a field 122 kilometers away from the launch site. The resulting images found on the on-board cameras were more amazing then the teenagers could have imagined.
The resulting video, which was uploaded to YouTube, impressed Michael McNally, brand relations director for Lego, who said, “We are always amazed by the creative ways in which Lego fans use our products, and humbled by how many unsuspecting places we appear, like attached to a helium balloon in . . . space. We’re thrilled to know that Lego products inspire children like Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad to be creative, experiment and see what they can accomplish.”
The Star reports their next project is to complete high school and continue their education at the University level. Ho plans to pursue a commerce degree, Muhammad has an engineering degree in his future.
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