A new aircraft is being tested this weekend in central Washington. But this one wasn’t built by Boeing or Amazon.
Nope. The Loki Lego Launcher is the creation of two enterprising Seattle girls who love robotics, engineering and space.
Kimberly and Rebecca Yeung are hoping to fly their handbuilt Loki Lego Launcher into the upper atmosphere on Saturday, where they’ll record data like temperature, pressure and altitude, along with video.
Why are they doing this? Quite simply, they said it sounded fun.
Kimberly, 8, and Rebecca, 10, found plans on High Altitude Science for a high-altitude weather balloon, along with equipment like a parachute and the data recorder. Kimberly, who will appear at this year’s GeekWire Summit, modified the plans to use the materials they had on hand. They constructed their craft out of triangles of wood and some broken archery arrows.
“We were using PVC pipe,” Rebecca told GeekWire. “But it was too heavy…So Kimberly and my dad took feathers off the arrows and now we’re using the shafts.”
The girls have done a lot of planning for the ship’s maiden voyage. They’ve plotted paths based on weather patterns and balloon weight, gathered helium to float the balloon, and found a flat spot to launch their ship. They even have a water contingency plan.
“Under the triangles that we put on our arrow shafts we have half of a styrofoam ball,” Rebecca said. “That will make the spacecraft float if it lands anywhere near water.”
The balloon will be up for around three hours and will glide back down to Earth with the help of a parachute. A GPS tracker will help them find the exact spot the balloon lands, so they can get the flight data and GoPro footage.
The craft is named after the girls’ cat, Loki, and an R2-D2 Lego figure. The girls printed out a picture of their cat and will send it and the Lego R2-D2 into the atmosphere this weekend, hoping to reach an altitude 80,000 feet. (Note: Jet aircraft typically fly up to 39,000 feet).
“If we could see the blackness of space, that in itself would be amazing,” says Winston Yeung, the girls’ father who is assisting in the planning and launch.
If you happen to stumble across a triangle of wood attached to a picture of a cat, an R2D2 figurine and an orange parachute, expect a visit from two Seattle girls looking to retrieve their spacecraft.
Rebecca and Kimberly plan to launch their craft from Moses Lake in central Washington on Saturday morning.
We will report back on their success, or failure. But this is already sounding like a big success to us.
After all, what are you doing with your Labor Day weekend?