Sheffield Post Sent Into Space

Hundreds of children’s postcards have been sent from Sheffield to their destinations via space.

Behind the launch was the Sheffield-based business Sent Into Space, who specialise in near-space exploration and high altitude videography.

The postcards were put in a box, rigged with cameras and attached to a helium balloon.

The balloon travelled at 6.2 metres per second as it rose to around 30 kilometres above ground in the Earth’s stratosphere.

It expanded throughout the journey to the size of a double-decker bus before bursting. After which, a parachute carried the postcards safely back down to earth and they were collected at their landing site in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

The balloon was launched from the roof of John Lewis in Sheffield city centre.

Children were invited to write postcards as part of the events to mark the 100th year of mechanical engineering at the University of Sheffield.

The view from near-space as the parachute is deployed.

Head of Projects and Innovation at Sent Into Space, Alex Keen, said: “We’ve had about 250 postcards submitted from local people, who have been exploring all of the engineering work that the University does.”

For all of this week, the Mechanical Engineering Department has set up stalls in the Winter Gardens to inspire the next generation of mechanical engineers.

Kat Taylor, who works in the department, said: “We are holding an exhibition of our history as well as lots of activities for local children to have a taste of what mechanical engineering is all about and to show them it’s not all about fixing washing machines.”

Among the attractions are a full size Formula racing car and a balloon just like the one which was sent into near-space.

University of Sheffield students show children a full size Formula racing car.

“The kids have loved it,” Ms Taylor said.

“We’ve had some kids that have been there for hours and we just can’t move them,” she added.

The activities continue from 11AM until 4PM on Friday at the Winter Gardens on Surrey Street.

More information on the 100 years of the Mechanical Engineering Department can be found in their book.

Charlie McGrath

Journalism student at the University of Sheffield.

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