Eyes on the skies

JANE POYNTER WANTS TO TAKE YOU HIGHER IN A VERY BIG BAL­LOON —AND GIVE SCI­ENCE A LIFT TOO

Popular Science - - CONTENTS - BY LAURA PARKER

Jane Poynter’s bal­loon brought fried chicken to the edge of space. Some­day the craft could go to Mars.

NOTH­ING DRAWS AT­TEN­TION TO YOUR NEW PROD­UCT LIKE US­ING it to send fast food into space. In June, Ari­zona-based World View demon­strated the po­ten­tial of its pi­o­neer­ing stratollite—a sort of mini satel­lite that uses a high-al­ti­tude bal­loon to take pay­loads into the strato­sphere—by part­ner­ing with KFC to ferry a 5-ounce piece of fried fowl 77,000 feet into the desert sky. “We took a frail chicken sand­wich, launched it into space for 17 hours, and when it came back, it was per­fect,” says World View CEO Jane Poynter.

Poynter’s ul­ti­mate goal is to send tourists to the edge of space, teth­ered to the com­pany’s bal­loons, and to make the fi­nal fron­tier more ac­ces­si­ble for re­search. Stra­tol­lites are in­ex­pen­sive, com­pact, and highly ma­neu­ver­able, ideal for mon­i­tor­ing weather pat­terns and pro­vid­ing mil­i­tary re­con­nais­sance or emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tions dur­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters. They can also do what tra­di­tional satel­lites can’t: spend months sta­tion­ary above a spe­cific lo­ca­tion.

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