'Sicilian Space Program' launches pastry
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[March 07, 2014]
By Naomi O'Leary
ROME (Reuters) — Sicilian amateur
scientists have launched a model cannolo, a cream-stuffed pastry roll
symbolic of the Italian island, into the stratosphere, capturing bizarre
images of the dessert flying far above the earth.
The 'Sicilian Space Program', which cost a rough total of 350
euros, had symbolic importance as well as being a scientific feat,
the three natives of the island town of Enna behind it told Reuters.
"Sicily has always been a place of negative connotations, mafia and
unemployment. We wanted to lift up Sicily in our own way," said
filmmaker Fabio Leone, 34, who recorded the project with Antonella
Their heavily indebted island, long plagued by organized crime, was
forced to impose a strict spending program by Rome in 2012 and has
one of the highest unemployment rates in Italy.
Attached to a large helium-filled balloon, a home-made spacecraft
called the 'Cannolo Transporter' equipped with two cameras and a GPS
tracker, captured stunning and comical images as the cannolo soared
above the clouds towards space.
It rose to at least 29,768 meters according to Paolo Capasso, 37, a
computer technician responsible for the careful calculations behind
the launch on February 2.
As a real cannolo would be unlikely to survive the voyage, the group
made a model of the cherry-studded pastry with a polymer clay
material hardened in an oven.
The craft had to weigh under 2 kilos to qualify for the easiest
official permits required to fly into high altitude.
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The body of the craft was made from an insulated icecream box, which
protected the camera batteries from temperatures that dropped below
-50 degrees Celsius.
Atmospheric pressure decreased as the Cannolo Transporter rose,
causing the balloon to expand until it eventually burst. It then
tumbled back to earth, slowed by a small parachute.
It landed in hills near the village of Bompietro, 25 km (15 miles)
from where had been launched at the peak of the Rocca di Cerere
nature park. It was recovered by the team who followed the GPS
signal on a hunt through fields of sheep.
(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; editing by Ralph Boulton)
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