Pond Control to Major Frog

When it comes to school mascots, we’ve seen bears and dogs and Lego men all brave the vacuum and extreme cold of space on our Classtronauts launches. However, last week broke new ground as we sent our very first amphibian up to the edge of the stratosphere.

An imaginative vision of Major Frog’s maiden voyage

Scotholme Primary School in Nottingham were excited to watch Major Frog make the perilous journey into near space. When we arrived on a foggy Wednesday morning, we could feel the excitement shared by teachers and pupils alike as we ran through our pre-launch presentation and educational workshops.

The school’s five values are imagination, collaboration, discipline, resilience and curiosity – all of which we saw in the wonderful young people we met on launch day! The diversity and intelligence of their questions was matched only by their instinctive courtesy in helping each other out with their work designing decorations to decorate the payload box and fly into space with Major Frog.

Despite the poor visibility on our arrival, by the time we were ready to launch the sky was wonderfully clear as we conducted our countdown in the field. For this launch we were testing a new balloon which we predicted would get us a little higher than our usual, but fortunately the flight path for the day had us landing nice and close nearby – an easy chasedown, we thought.

Couldn’t be simpler…

As it turned out, this balloon exceeded all expectations, taking Major Frog to an outstanding 36km! Unfortunately, this also meant our eventual landing site was a little further out than we’d expected…

A heartstopping moment

This was one of those moments where we were thankful for good preparation – after extensive predictions the previous day, we’d ascertained that even if it went well over our expected altitude, the balloon still had a 99% chance of landing on solid ground and the truck was well stocked with everything we needed for a safe recovery, even if we did have to drive a lot further than expected.

Why would Major Frog do such a thing to us? Well, after we recovered the payload, it all became clear: the stress of a near-space flight had left Major Frog eager to relax in a comfortable, familiar environment. Check out our video below to see what I mean!

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