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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a Superman action figure on the precipice of Earth ready to plummet down to terra firma! Don’t believe me? Then check out this rather odd but also surprisingly and completely engaging clip depicting Superman’s travel through space.
Um … I don’t really know what to say. While I have to admit that I was completely transfixed by the clip, after watching it I was struggling to see what the point was in sending the action figure into space. Well, the good people over at Design Spark, who orchestrated the bizarre mission, have helped to reveal more details regarding the project. After being approached by Mattel toys, they set out to recreate Felix Baumgartner’s 39-kilometre fall from space, which took place on October 14, 2012. Back in September, they headed out to Ross-on-Wye, England, to finally complete their task. Why did they choose this sleepy little town, which is on the border that separates Wales and England? Pete Wood, who works for Design Sparks, explained that it "was well away from large cities and frequent air traffic." Clever boys. They then set about creating the capsule and its key components, which included special cameras, GPS radio trackers, a "Superman Tracker" and a capsule complete with a battery compartment and eject trigger.
Despite the fact that we’ve seen Kal-El fly through the atmosphere on numerous occasions over the years, the action figure was clearly a bit nervous that he couldn’t match the exploits of Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, and Man Of Steel/Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’s Henry Cavill. So instead he was assisted into the stratosphere by a latex weather balloon that was filled with hydrogen.
At around 11:30am on the launch day, the balloon finally began its gargantuan ascent. After a journey of around 1 hour and 40 minutes it reached an altitude of 29 kilometres. Despite the fact that this isn’t technically space, which begins a further 100 kilometres higher, the views that were on offer were still rather sensational. The decision was made to stop here because they didn’t want the balloon to burst in the freezing conditions that were only getting worse as it went further up. Superman was then ejected and, as Buzz Lightyear once declared, rather than flying he simply fell with style. All in all, you have to admit that it’s a rather impressive feat from the small team, especially when you consider the rudimentary materials that they used to complete it. I’m still not exactly sure why they did it, but what they ended up doing was rather entertaining, so it's hard to give it too much guff.