Figs in Space!
What would be the ultimate adventure for fruit?
This is something we love to ponder on. We are adventurous in nature and want our fruit to experience the most it can during its season. It would also be fair to say we like to think that we are limited in a way that our fruit is not. So what would be the ultimate adventure for fruit? We asked all of our colleagues, friends, and family, and there was one question that kept cropping up: could fruit venture to the edges of our atmosphere and survive?
We were left with no choice but to conduct a highly scientific experiment with two brave fig volunteers. This would be our piece de resistance, our sign to the world that we are serious in our dedication to Adventures in Fruit.
Unfamiliar with the procedure of sending something into space we decided to Google it. Buying a balloon was the easy bit! It soon became apparent that we would have to contact the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure we did not violate commercial airspace - something, it is fair to say, we have never had to consider before. After a quick phone call we were sent a form to complete to get permission for the maiden voyage. We completed this and provided a location and a range of dates for our launch.
Permission was granted after a short wait and we had gathered everything we required: a large weather balloon, a rather large tank of helium, a GPS tracker, two small cameras, a parachute - and our astronauts.
The date of the launch arrived and we were up before dawn to travel to our designated launch site. We had chosen a place in the depths of rural Gloucestershire that was not at all built up and where, using some advanced software, we calculated our balloon had a good chance of landing away from towns and major roads.
We had fashioned a little basket, with a Paddington Bear style note attached, for our figs alongside the technical items. Filling up the balloon was rather nerve-racking as it wanted to get away as soon as it could. The moment we let go it rapidly ascended towards the sky and was soon a little dot in the far distance. Bye bye brave figs!
There was nothing for it but to wait. We went off to find a strong cup of coffee and then set off towards the expected landing zone in Oxfordshire.
We soon realised that the GPS transmitter had failed and we would have to rely on someone finding the balloon and calling us. We could only get the footage from the cameras if we could find them! It was a desperate thought after so much planning. So many possibilities went through our minds - what if the balloon had landed in a tree? What if someone had kept it? What if it had broken through the atmosphere and was at that moment now orbiting the earth and set to do so for millennia to come? And so our wait became more and more frantic.
Then - we had a call from an unknown number.
It was a lovely man called Paul. He explained he had seen a little parachute landing near a road, just outside Banbury, while he was driving with his wife. Curiosity piqued, he pulled over to see what it was. Our figs had been rescued! It must have been an odd moment for Paul to contemplate his discovery - before he found our note. He called us straight away and luckily we were not far away - thank you, software engineers!
We rushed back home with the cameras and our not-at-all bruised figs to see what they had experienced. As you can see from our video, the footage was breathtaking! The figs reached an altitude of around 30,000m/98,000ft, and witnessed the beauty of Earth and space. They returned victorious and happy to share with you everything they saw.
Of the six figanauts, two went to space and returned younger than their colleagues who remained on Earth.