About 9 years ago in a snowy field in the middle of the UK, we did our first launch with a cheap weather balloon and a satellite tracker purchased from eBay and with a structure made from discarded Styrofoam remnants. Today, with over 500 successful launches we are by far the most experienced high-altitude balloon operators in the world! Back then, becoming Near Space experts never entered our minds. That first launch was simply the consequence of an idle conversation that went way too far…
While pursuing their PhDs in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield in 2010, Alex Baker and Chris Rose would often engage in discussing unusual, often crazy engineering challenges. The idea that literally launched their careers came after they stumbled upon a video from the 1950s of US Air Force Project Excelsior showing Captain Joe Kittinger being carried up to the edge of space by a giant helium balloon and setting the record for the longest freefall in history of 102,800 feet. The idea sprung into their heads to see if they could take a picture from space using a similar method to elevate a camera.
Over the next few months, Chris and Alex did their research, made their eBay purchases and scavenged for parts and materials to make their first weather balloon/camera contraption. And on the 17th of December 2010, they launched it from a snowy field in Ashbourne, Derbyshire in the UK and followed its flight to Essex where they recovered the payload. The footage they captured resulted in a photographically stitched panoramic image of the Earth.
Feeling proud and successful the two had been fortunate to take video of every step of their project and were able to produce a video that they posted on YouTube, then a relatively new video-sharing platform. To everyone’s surprise the video went viral and they began connecting with schools, businesses, news outlets and individuals curious about the launch. They were even invited to do a TED Talk. This is when they realized the potential of the business opportunity that lay before them during the infancy of social media.
FROM THERE TO HERE
Now armed with their PhDs, Dr. Rose and Dr. Baker made Sent Into Space a company and registered it in July of 2011 to offer space launch services to schools and businesses. They kept improving with their developments of new technologies and equipment to meet their client’s challenges. As new applications were identified for their launch services, they enlisted the services of expert marketing and video production people and brought in experienced businesspeople to handle the details of a growing business. No longer just a gimmick for stunt videos, Sent Into Space now offers environmental testing for aerospace and avionics components, data capture for scientific research and even a memorial service for scattering cremated ashes.
From those humble beginnings, Sent Into Space has launched over 500 flights, including some from the world’s largest companies. Chris and Alex and ten other dedicated people from all walks of life share that passion for space and for pushing the boundaries of what is possible. We are always looking for ways to improve, and we learn from our clients, so we are always ready to talk to you about any challenge you may have for our team