Hello Kitty launched into space by 7th grader

12-year-old Lauren Rojas and her dad, Rod, built a balloon-lofted Hello Kitty space-capsule for her science fair project in Antioch, CA, and launched it 17 miles above the Earth's surface, recording its journey with video cameras and various sensors. The video is spectacular, especially the moments right before and right after the balloon burst and the parachutes deployed.

“We spent about one month planning and executing it,” he said. “We used a company called High Altitude Science in Colorado to get the equipment, the weather balloon and flight computer.”

Lauren and her father mounted small video cameras on their rocket-shaped gondola to record Hello Kitty’s journey. The balloon reached an altitude of 93,625 feet (17.73 miles), Rojas said. There, the air was so thin that the balloon burst, sending Hello Kitty from the sky. It landed in a tree 47 miles from the launch site, according to Rojas.

Girl Launches Hello Kitty Doll Into Space [Katie Kindelan/ABC]

(via IO9)


  1. I’m pretty sure the 12yo was in the background for all this..”Here Dad, here’s a screw driver’. While Dad actually built planed and executed the entire thing.  I think the contribution for the project was “Hey, lets put hello kitty on it”. for the kid.

    EDIT: Okay from the video it does look she was actively involved. I posted to hasty. I’m overly cynical.

    1. Yeah, that looks the dad drilling holes in the body of the thing about four seconds into the video. And it looks like the dad filling up the balloon from the helium canister later on too.
      Did you watch any of this?

      Doubtless the dad who seems to mostly be doing the videoing also did a bunch of logistics and sourced the materials and so on. That’s called being a good dad. That doesn’t mean the kid didn’t participate in a meaningful, exciting way.

      Just because she’s doing more awesome stuff than you were doing at that age doesn’t give you the right to shit on it.

      On an unrelated note, I’ll give the pink nausea a pass THIS ONE TIME.

      Edit: I see you edited while I was posting this. Yeah, probably shouldn’t comment without watching the media, right?

      1. As a dad of two girls, yes the nauseous pink can be frustrating, but the trick is to use it to your advantage. Lego Mindstorms can be much more fun when they are combined with Belville sets. When building a rocket let them pick out the paint. You can do some marvelous things together if you let them show you what is important from their perspective.

    1. Sure, if you measure by altitude and use the 100km definition.

      But, if you go by pressure… their pressure was 0.255 psi; ground level is 17.5. So, I’d say they made it 98.6% of the way to space.

      1. Well done to Lauren (and her dad) but yeah, why let the facts get in the way of a good story. It’s only a science project after all. The reason they could use a balloon to get Kitty up there iss that it isn’t space.

        1. I’m not saying that the last 1.4% isn’t the hardest … kinda like eating the last chicken wing in a bucket of 100 :-)

  2. Yeah. 17 miles is not “space”.  But close enough for a 12-year-old in my book. So what if dad helped? Cool dad.  The part where the balloon explodes is pretty freekin awesome. 

  3. 4 GoPros! I’d want to make damn sure I could find the thing once it had landed.

    The bit where the balloon exploded was the best bit. 

    1. You mean the part where the balloon attempted to take the form of Cthulhu before it was rent asunder by the power of unspeakable evil?

      1. They are that. But in this case they didn’t get good value then. You just got a glimpse of the housings. No logos, nor GoPros angled to shoot other GoPros like you often see. But we’re talking about it so, who knows? Maybe they did get VFM.

        GoPro is a classic “disruptive” product/technology. By having far fewer features than the competition, it meant Sony et. al. let them fly under the radar until it was too late. “No viewfinder? No zoom? No focus? No FX? No onboard editing? Who’d buy one? Don’t worry about them!”

    1. It was just a Hello Kitty Balloon. The contents of the toy have been taken to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for further study, but there is no evidence to indicate Elder origins or that it was the Great Old One.

  4. Yawn. Is this sort of thing still cool? Anyone with enough money, time, effort can do this. Its not at all that interesting, especially annoying when every few months/years we hash over the same send a balloon to near-space story like its the most awesome thing ever and that the people who did it are real geniuses. It isn’t, they aren’t.

    1. I anxiously await your contribution to science that kids think is pretty awesome and may result in a lifetime of respect for the grand universe and this tiny ball of dust all of humanity has existed on since time, ever.

      Until then, I’m going to think these are still pretty cool.

    2. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some really, really unnecessarily angry posts on Boing Boing, but dang, dogg. Dang.

    3. At first I was sure you were being ironic because surely no one would be that massive a dick with a straight face…except perhaps on YouTube or Yahoo. Now I’m less certain. If a 12 year-old’s precocious bent for aerospace engineering is too much for your insecure ego to handle, I recommend just not leaving your house; that way we all win.

      The video alone has better production values than the actual music video for this song.

    4. Yes, it is still very cool indeed. If it was college students doing it as a drunken stunt, well then, no. But I just love seeing kids do this. I’d like to help my kids do this. It isn’t cheap to do, though.

    5. Really, now. Where are all these videos that you claim to exist, showing Hello Kitty flying straight up 17 miles?

  5. I know lots of people have done this but this was actually one of the better filmed ones. I love the camera pointing up at the baloon when it bursts, that we really rather beautiful.

    And while I’m sure dad had a big hand in this, she doesn’t exactly look like she’s taking a back seat. If my kids are doing things like this at her age I think I’d count myself as a success as a dad.

  6. Thank God that, so far, only one person has seen it fit to point out it is not actually in space, thereby bringing everyone else down with their overpowering knowledge. 

    Really cool project. Love the way that the objects land pretty much in the general locale where they launched from.Nice work, girl and dad.

    1. It’s all about that hotly contested Space Border, with occasional flare-ups between the Earthlings and the Space Race. Politics!

      “We’re with the Department of Homeland Security. Can we speak to you and your wife, sir? We have information that your daughter may be aiding Japanese agents in developing unauthorized space delivery capabilities. Don’t shoot the messenger, sir. We’re just keeping America safe from enemy plushies. Why do you hate America, sir?”

      “NASA here. Can we hire your daughter?”

  7. Awesome!!! Especially loved how she had HK in a little silver rocket as opposed to just sitting there on a piece of styrofoam. The entire project had a very nice poetic feel to it, right down to her landing in the treetop. This feels like our eras “note in a bottle”.

  8. Daddy had the bucks to buy FOUR GoPro2 HD cameras and a kit for everything else.  The fact that she can properly assemble it all and successfully launch and recover it puts her well above many of her peers, but if she’d built the entire system from scratch using inexpensive components, I’d be much more impressed.

  9. Can anyone confirm my suspicion that the reservoir at the end is Lexington Reservoir, right off Highway 17, south of Los Gatos?  That’s about the right distance from Antioch, CA, and the balloon has clearly drifted to the south bay.

  10. Its a science project and a cartoon animation with a scenery better than any green screen could create, and its outstanding!

  11. Not to detract from the awesomeness of her project, but given that she’s a student at a fundamentalist Christian school, she’s lucky that her talents are in aerospace, and not, say, evolutionary biology. 

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