This ornament has gone where no Christmas decoration has been before--the stratosphere. On Oct 9, 2022, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched Capt. Kirk on board a cosmic ray research balloon. At the apex of the flight, he floated 109,620 feet above California's Sierra Nevada mountains.
During the 2.3 hour flight, Kirk experienced temperatures as low as -58 C and air pressures less than 0.09% of sea level. According to the radiation sensors, cosmic ray levels were 100 times Earth-normal as the ornament reached the top of our planet’s atmosphere and touched the edge of space. After the balloon exploded (as planned), the payload parachuted back to Earth, landing in the Inyo Mountains near Bishop, CA.
The students are selling Kirk ornaments to pay the helium bill for their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the Captain of the Enterprise in flight and telling the story of his trip to the stratosphere and back again.
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