The average teddy bear has a hard time escaping the clutches of the child who owns it. But with a little help from a helium balloon and some science-minded schoolchildren, one bold little bear made it all the way to the stratosphere.
"Derek" lifted off on March 3, according to the website of the Toynbee School in Chandler's Ford, England. The little guy reached an altitude of more than 34,000 meters (21 miles) before the balloon popped, sending him on a surprisingly bumpy descent that ended with Derek high up in a tree.
His entire journey lasted about three hours.
The seven- to ninth-grade students got a little help of their own from the University of Southampton’s Physics Society. The launch was the culmination of a series of after-school science education sessions, society spokesperson Cait Percy said in a written statement.
"It has helped to generate excitement and interest in physics and shows that you can do some really cool stuff through science,” Percy said.
Derek wasn't the first teddy bear to slip earths' surly bonds.
In 2008, a pair of teddies secured to a helium-filled weather balloon was sent 18 miles above the earth's surface by Cambridge University students. Those bears, named MAT and KMS, were outfitted with special suits, as was Derek.
"We asked the children to build the space suits for the teddy bears and we monitored the temperatures inside and outside the suits," Henry Hallam, an aerodynamics student at Cambridge's Pembroke College, told The Telegraph. "It was still pretty cold for the bears but they would be frozen solid if they didn't have their suits."
How about the first teddy to leave the atmosphere? That honor belongs to Magellan T. Bear, who went up on the Space Shuttle Discovery in February 1995, according to the Smithsonian Institution.
Watch the video (above) to see Derek's amazing mission.
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