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Toronto Teens Launch “Lego Man in Space”

Two Toronto Teens Launch 'Lego Man In Space' to the Stratosphere - Jan 2012
Stunning space imagery was captured by Canadian teenagers Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad when they lofted a tiny ‘Lego Man in Space’ astronaut to an altitude of 16 miles (25 kilometers) precariosuly protruding from a helium filled weather balloon. Lego Man is holding the Canadian National flag. Earth's curvature and blackness of space in background. Credit: Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad
See the Video and Photos below - 'Lego Man' even shoots the Moon !


Updated:Jan. 30

Two teens from Toronto,Canada have launched “Lego Man in Space” using a helium filled weather balloon and captured stunning video of the miniature toy figure back dropped by the beautiful curvature of Earth and the desolate blackness of space that’s become a worldwide YouTube sensation – over 2 million hits !

17 year olds Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad lofted the tiny 2 inch tall Lego figure from a local Toronto soccer field up to a height of about 85,000 feet, or 16 miles (25 kilometers), where the 22 foot (7 m) diameter helium balloon burst in what is technically known as the stratosphere. The homemade styrofoam capsule – equipped with two video cameras and two digital cameras (Canon) – then parachuted back to Earth.

“We launched the project on January 7,” Mathew Ho told Universe Today.

“Altogether, we used 4 cameras, two cameras taking stills, and two taking video – Canon, Sony, GoPro – in the 1 cubic foot capsule,” Ho explained.

“After endless hours of hard work, we managed to capture stunning views of our atmosphere and put a ‘Lego’ man into near space!” said the ambitious teens who are 12th graders at the Agincourt Collegiate Institute.

The pair posted a YouTube video (below) documenting the entire voyage and some camera snapshots on their website on January 25.

Lego Man even snapped cool Moon shots – look closely at the video and photo below.

“Lego Man in Space” – The Video

The duo recounted the details of their sensational space tale of science on a shoestring for Canadian TV and newspapers.

“Upon launch we were very relieved. But we had a lot of anxiety on launch day because there were high winds when we were going up after all the hard work,” said Ho in a studio interview on Canadian TV (CTV).

“We were also scared because now we would have to retrieve it back after it came down,” Asad chimed in.

“We had no idea it would capture photos like that and would be so good,” said Ho. “We were blown away when we saw them back home.”

The toy Lego astronaut is seen standing atop a thin runway protruding precariously from one end of the small, box shaped capsule as though he was walking the plank and about to plunge into the ocean of space. All the while, cameras were aimed directly out towards him recording the entire rollicking journey from liftoff to the stratosphere to landing, with a constantly changing Earth in the background.

Altogether they netted two videos and 1500 photos.

Lego Man in Space shoots the Moon !
Credit: Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad

Coincidentally, several Lego toys are constantly flying even higher above the Earth at this very moment aboard the International Space Station as part of an educational outreach effort by NASA and Lego. And 3 more Lego figurines are speeding to Jupiter aboard NASA’s Juno orbiter.

Legoman’s spectacular journey lasted some 97 minutes. He’s beaming proudly throughout the video while holding the Canadian National flag – the Red Maple Leaf. The rollercoaster-like scenery may well challenge the stomachs of those with fear of heights.

The tumbling Lego Man in Space capsule upon the violent descent captured the moment before the parachute was activated. Credit: Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad

Mathew and Asad worked over about four months one day a week on Saturdays to assemble the rig in Mathew’s kitchen and successfully accomplished the feat on a shoestring budget of merely 400 dollars. They used GPS trackers to locate “Lego Man in Space” and recover the intact capsule holding the imagery.

After the balloon burst at 85,000 feet, the parachute assisted descent back to Earth took about 32 minutes. Winds aloft caused the capsule to drift some 76 miles (122 kilometers) away from the launch site before landing at Rice Lake in one piece.

Lego Man in Space capsule after landing 76 miles (122 kilometers) away from the Toronto soccor field launch site. Credit: Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad

“We were jumping for joy when we saw the capsule and the parachute. We were ecstatic when we found it,” said Ho.

“We have a long history of passionate building and working together,” Ho told CTV.

The project began after they saw that MIT students had sent a camera to the edge of space with a balloon and captured stunning views.

“We were inspired by videos and pictures we had seen online two years ago and we began working on this in the Fall of 2011. In total the project cost about $400 Canadian,” Ho told me.

“We hope to publish more pictures and video to our Facebook page and website soon,” Ho added.

And now we know another truth about Lego’s – Not only can they withstand the destructive forces of kids, but outer space too !

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous January 29, 2012, 12:52 AM

    To boldly go where no lego man has gone before!

  • backinbowl January 29, 2012, 2:21 AM

    It is refreshing and reassuring to be reminded — and so very dramatically in this case — that there are still many teens out there who are not at all inclined to be high school dropouts, slackers, wastrels and/or gangbangers, as witness this amazing, illustrious achievement by these two obviously exemplary young men; mega-kudos to both of them upon the success of their glorious venture !

  • Anonymous January 29, 2012, 3:05 AM

    what cameras were used for this cool flight? video and still I like to know.

    • Ken Kremer February 2, 2012, 4:27 PM

      in reply to bob 1 and jm50; article updated with camera types

  • Anonymous January 29, 2012, 7:02 AM

    Wonderful to see such ingenuity from teens. Capturing the Moon on the video was a great bonus. I suspect they used a GoPro HD camera.

  • Anonymous January 29, 2012, 8:54 AM

    Soon someone will strap a rocket under the balloon and be the first amateur sputnik.

  • Anonymous January 29, 2012, 11:06 AM
  • SR January 29, 2012, 3:35 PM

    For all the jokes I want to make about this landmark mission of the “Canadian Space Program”, I think it is pretty damned awesome that these kids put their time, effort, and resources together to make this project a reality. Kudos to you guys for embarking on this project, and congratulations on the beautiful results.

  • Guest January 29, 2012, 4:20 PM

    probably the closest canada will ever get ;)

  • Tammy Plotner January 29, 2012, 10:03 PM

    way to go, Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad!! that has got to be one of the absolutely coolest things i have ever seen! i echo SR and backinbowl’s comments… it’s not only pure genius, but pure inspiration! thanks for an awesome job of reporting, ken!

    • Ken Kremer January 30, 2012, 5:30 PM

      The story has now been updated with more details from Matt and Asad. They are truly creative and ingenious. Thanks Tammy

  • Rui Delgado January 29, 2012, 10:16 PM

    Well done !!!

  • Anonymous January 30, 2012, 2:12 AM

    In true Canadian fashion, there are party-poopers about:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/offbeat/story/2012/01/28/toronto-lego-space-teens-safety.html

  • Anonymous January 30, 2012, 7:26 AM

    Fantastic. Beautiful footage too. The streaks of sunlight across Lego Man. And the gorgeous silence above the clouds.

  • Anonymous January 31, 2012, 7:46 AM

    that was cool

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