Domex Superfresh Growers wanted to do something special to mark its 2017 Autumn Glory apple season. So the company sent an Autumn Glory apple 116,000 feet up into the stratosphere.
Domex employees managed the project entirely in-house, using a weather balloon they designed, according to a news release.
The idea was the brainchild of CEO Robert Kershaw, and information technology and tech enthusiasts Steve Potter and Jeff Johnston led the project, with documentation by media manager Tyler Weinbender, according to the release. Several other employees helped with launch and recovery efforts.
The team launched the balloon from an orchard in Selah, Wash., where an Autumn Glory apple was picked and attached to the balloon’s payload platform.
Two cameras documented the 75-mile trip, which went as high as 116,000 feet up where the temperature reached -77 F, according to the release.
The balloon was designed to rupture at its apex and parachute back to earth. Potter, Johnston and Weinbender tracked the balloon’s path using HAM radio and satellite eqipment and then hiked 14 miles to recover the apple, cameras and the remains of the balloon near Dot, Wash.
“Science is about learning,” Potter said in the release, “and one thing we learned is to bring along a company 4-wheeler next year!”