17-y-o girl, accepted to MIT, sends her admission letter into space


70 Responses to “17-y-o girl, accepted to MIT, sends her admission letter into space”

  1. Zelmel says:

    Rather than a 16 year old, isn’t that statement from Chris saying she’s part of the class of ’16 (2016, 4 years from now)?

  2. Scott Croom says:

    Dear MIT, every year is the anniversary of an event. It may not be an even numbered anniversary but it is still an anniversary none the less.
    The Universe That You Are The Center Of

  3. Peter Braccio says:

    This was great!

    Erin, good luck to you at MIT. It looks like you got into the perfect school.

  4. redfood says:

    Class of 16

  5. MrEricSir says:

     “Hi, we’re visiting this planet from the Mars Institute of Technology, and we were really confused by the letter you sent us.”

  6. ahecht says:

    I’m getting a little tired of these weather balloon videos shot with fisheye lenses that then claim that they are videos from space. As if we’re supposed to be fooled by the fisheye lens into thinking that we’re seeing the curvature of the earth. Why doesn’t anyone send up a weather balloon with a non-fisheye camera?

    91,000ft != space. Depending on the definition, space starts at 400k ft (re-entry altitude), 387k ft (the point where solar wind dominates over the atmosphere), 330k feet (according to international treaty),  or 264k ft (according to NASA’s astronaut program).

    However, 91,000ft is well recognized as the Stratosphere. What’s wrong with the headline “’16 girl, accepted to MIT, sends her admission letter into Stratosphere”? It’s still impressive!

  7. ultranaut says:

    smart people are fucking awesome. rock on erin king!

  8. Chris Peterson says:

    Hi everyone - 

    Erin is both 16 years old AND a member of the class of 2016. 

    Glad you liked it! She’s awesome. 

  9. bob says:

    Looks to me like her dad and the rest of the amateur radio club were the brains behind the operation. Why so much praise for her? 
    Sure she’s a future MIT grad, but as of right now she could not have done one aspect of this project herself.
    …Congrats dad for your awesome project with your child’s acceptance letter!

  10. snipehunt says:

    Did she do it with points from her Chase credit card?

  11. badmigraine says:

    Wow, it’s a bit chilly in here. Congratulations Erin! And thanks for the inspiring vid. I’m going to start a new project myself right now.

  12. Steve Green says:

    Scary clever and with great potential to change the world for the better, here’s hoping she doesn’t end up working in finance :(

  13. Paul Bokel says:

    Was there  something zooming past around the 6:21 mark?

    • Chris Peterson says:

      We were just asking the same thing actually…

      • At 6:12 there’s a whole bunch of paper-like debris from the thing just after it reaches apogee. I was assuming that 6:21 was another piece — it looked vaguely like a cardboard tube with fins.

        • Chris Peterson says:

          That seems reasonable, but my buddy at the Smithsonian gave me an answer I like better: “I assumed it was Jesus giving her a high five.” 

          • Erin King says:

            Haha! that’s awesome. XD Thanks, y’all. It was actually just what my friends and I like to call a “balloon shard”

    • Mr. Spocko says:

      What you saw was NOT a space ship. The word Enterprise was just printing on the shreds of the balloon. To order more balloons for your next trip to near space write us at Our address 1701 Enterprise Street, Asheboro, NC

      (Stupid primitive distributed matrix for distribution of images and video. Now we are going to have to go back in time and zap that camera. What? Did I just type that out loud? Stupid mind to text translator. Stop typing what I’m thinking. End. Quit. Stop. Reverse the polarity. Log out.

  14. Terry Fairbrother says:

    Our childrens future is in great hands with the interest and enthusiasm that is currently displayed by the likes of Erin. Continue to be creative (but still enjoy being a teenager)

  15. Marktech says:

    Not to reduce her achievement at all, but I preferred Noah’s expression of the right of every American to bear citrus-based projectile weapons.

  16. Randy Revels says:

    Great job Erin.  I’m going to link to this from my blog so my studenta can be inspired. You rock!

  17. hungryjoe says:

    Really a cool project, and a nice reminder to make something with my kids today.

  18. Nick Miller says:

    Awesome! I’m going to show this to my daughter.

  19. Stephen Rice says:

    And that seems to answer why she’s going to MIT. Awesome.

    I think it’s a great tradition as well. My university acceptance letter just went into a file.

  20. Brent Clark says:

    Anyone else dig the Embroidery hoop in near space…. We totally need more female technologists!!!!

  21. allen says:

    Sidestepping all the gender-oriented commentary, this is awesome.  Good job kid!

  22. LogrusZed says:

    Way to go Erin, Peach State REPRESENT! Go Dawgs, etc.

  23. cstatman says:

    Just when I think the idiot clones at the mall are the END of our species, and we have nothing left to offer,   bright young rays of light shine through!     Go Large, invent, dream, build amazing things!   and thank you for being bright!

  24. Snig says:

    This is the balloon based hack initially mentioned:

     here are later ones:


  25. grimatongueworm says:

    Dammit, where’s the NSFMS tag??? (not safe for motion sickness) going to go and throw up now.

  26. haineux says:

    Once upon a time, many years ago, I was an MIT student and a photographer for The Tech (MIT’s oldest and largest newspaper), and was told to go to a certain location at a certain time, to witness a hack of truly epic proportions. I overslept. The other photographer, got lost. So I ended up in the offices of The Tech, and then the phone started ringing. The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald called to get information. Someone found a TV and tuned in to EPSN, so we could see a video. And my girlfriend and I wrote the story, which you can read here: http://tech.mit.edu/V102/PDF/N55.pdf (The pictures were taken by the Harvard Crimson (student newspaper) photographer, Nevin Shalit, son of TV personality Gene Shalit. Nice guy.)

    Hearing “an old balloon hack” made me feel really, really old (it happened before Erin was born!) and a little sad. It was, to me, the very best hack ever perpetrated. Totally unexpected, flawless, and a marvel of engineering.

    No flies on Erin, of course. Shooting an acceptance letter into “near space” — good work! Now get to work inventing explanations for IHTFP.

  27. xvedejas says:

    If you like space, why not go to Caltech instead? We have JPL and a much more serious set of science courses than MIT from what I’ve seen…

  28. G Cardenas says:


  29. awjt says:

    Erin, best of luck to you in school!  You will get much further up than your balloon did!  Nice work and keep at it.

  30. Patanjali Sacha says:

    What an inventive project! Awesome ladies like yourself are so inspiring. Additionally, the time you took to respond to everyone here shows a lot about your character! Have a blast in Cambridge and Boston.

  31. ChickieD says:

    I love this video. The cinematography and editing are great and add a lot to capturing the fun of the hack. 

  32. Jay Sitlani says:

    Fantastic in so many ways!  Congratulations on your acceptance.  MIT’s lucky to get you :).

    Jay MIT, Class of 1988

  33. Made me smile – good luck, Erin!

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