Lego space mission turns T.O. teens into rock stars
Matthew Coutts, ctvtoronto.ca
Published Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:46AM EST
Two Toronto teenagers with an interest in space flight became overnight rock stars after their mission to send a Lego man into near space captured international attention.
Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, two 17-year-old Agincourt Collegiate students, successfully sent a balloon carrying a Lego man and a small Canadian flag to the edge of Earth's atmosphere.
The mission was more than a year in the making and was completed two weeks ago. It gained the attention of local media on Wednesday and, within 24 hours, their exploits and the awe-inspiring images they collected were being talked about across North America and mentioned as far away as Australia and Germany.
"We are enjoying it. We are just really glad we are getting our images out there," Ho told CTV's Canada AM on Thursday before laughing off the suggestion that they now had an entourage.
Ho and Muhammad first started sketching out their plans to send a pod into the middle stratosphere last September, working only on weekends as they balanced life as high school seniors.
Two weeks ago, the unit was attached to a helium-filled balloon and launched from a park near Ho's east-end home, ascending 24 kilometres in 97 minutes before the balloon popped.
The Lego man and his cargo fell safely to Earth, with the help of a homemade parachute, where it landed in a field near Rice Lake, about 120 kilometres from the launch point.
The whole mission, which cost about $400, was captured by four cameras on board the shuttle and tracked by the GPS inside a phone. The astonishing photographs showed the Lego man hovering well above earth and captured glorious views of our planet from space.
"Our parents were really supportive. But other family and friends, they were like, ‘You are sending cameras into space? Sure.' Once they saw the results they were astonished," Ho said.
Ho and Muhammad first met in Grade 7, when Muhammad's family moved to Toronto from Pakistan.
"He was one of the first people I met when I came here to Canada. When I came here from Pakistan I didn't speak any English and Mathew was really nice to me," Muhammad said. "He was really supportive."
The pair said they don't have any more space flights planned at the moment and are going to focus on graduating high school and getting into a good college.