Rocketburger, the first Swiss burger in space

The ETH Entrepreneur Club has dreamt of sending a burger in space. They say “Dream it. Do it.”, and so Unicorn Labs did.

Pursuing this ambitious goal, they needed a way to turn this dream into reality. The ETH Entrepreneur Club partnered up with Unicorn Labs to send the first ever Swiss burger right from the HolyCow kitchen into space. To make all of this possible, two new breeders were brought on board to complement the team with their experience and knowledge.

Approach

The goal was set high from the start and so the approach had to be chosen accordingly. The most fitting way to go was to attach a payload with the burger to a weather balloon. The plan also required the addition of multiple elements like a video capture of the voyage as well as a holder for the burger itself. The complete package would also need to be recovered and preferably in an intact state so the footage of the cameras could be used for marketing purposes.

The first step was thus the purchase of a large weather balloon as well as some basic materials to build the payload like a Styrofoam box, wooden sticks and duct tape. The box was then adapted with slots and holes to harbor our cameras and their cables. Because the temperature drops at high altitudes, the Styrofoam would work as an insulator around the equipment. And since the complete system is only hanging by a fine thread to the balloon, the box was fitted out with large flaps to help inhibit the rotation.

 

With all the materials and the burger gathered, a better estimate of the weight could be established. This was crucial as the amount of helium needed to be calculated to fit our set goal. Although all was ready to go, a lot remained unclear as this was our first ever experience with sending objects to space. Setting aside all these worries, it was also time to make sure our package would not start a free fall once the helium balloon explodes, and descends straight down to be completely obliterated at impact. For this, we attached a small parachute between our payload and the helium balloon, which should deploy once it starts its descent.

Results

The Rocketburger reached a staggering 30’000 m of altitude! After a suspenseful search and rescue stretching across the whole afternoon, we managed to retrieve it from its landing zone in German Town. Check out the the after movie with some nice footage from space in the video at the top!

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