Graduates launch out-of-this-world business

NASA dreams are being made into reality thanks to a unique new business allowing people across the globe to send themselves into space – albeit virtually.

Chris Rose and Alex Baker, two University of Sheffield PhD engineering graduates, launch low-cost space missions sending photographs, bill-board style adverts, cakes and even a diamond into space at 39km high - past the 19km oxygen assembly line in which humans cannot survive beyond. The space crafts are fitted with a camera that beams back images of the earth's stratosphere, allowing people to experience their very own space missions.

The company has taken off after its first successful flight in 2010. The talented pair both took an interest in photography, and as keen engineers, wanted to keep themselves busy with a fun and unusual project. The first cargo was constructed from materials found in a scrap bin, a helium filled balloon, along with a fitted tracking device, with two video cameras attached filming and taking HD photographs of the stratosphere.

“At first it started out as a hypothetical scenario – would the camera film that high up? Will it work at that temperature?” said Chris. “The project has advanced so much as we now determine the materials by what weight we require, or by what angle the camera needs to be, and we now have live tracking systems communicating in real time.

“We know where the object is and where it will land, and specifically target low population areas for landing, which we can control through adjusting gas levels - the more gas the quicker the cargo will travel.”

Chris added: “NASA’s work is on such a large scale - it’s mind-blowing. However, what we do is unique as we offer the kit and expertise for non-specialists. We are just a couple of geeks who really want people to get involved; there’s a role for everyone from the designing to the maths. We are particularly keen to send off advertorial campaigns for companies, and want as many schools involved as possible!”

Missions take between approximately three to four hours, and range from basic sending packs of £175 to more complex missions for £499. For more information see: