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Rubber chicken flies into space

Last updated 11:46 24/04/2012

Thanks to The Muppets many will have heard of "pigs in space" - now a rubber chicken dressed in a knitted space suit has taken to the stratosphere.

Camilla - attached to a helium balloon - eventually reached an altitude of nearly 40 kilometres in a bid to test solar radiation levels.

Attached to her knitted space suit were radiation badges, the same kind medical technicians and nuclear workers wear to assess their dosages.

The modified lunchbox she travelled in carried four cameras, a cryogenic thermometer and two GPS trackers along with seven insects and two dozen sunflower seeds to test their response to near-space travel.

She flew twice last month to give students at a school in Bishop, California, the chance to make comparisons of radiation levels.

Pupil Rachel Molina, 17, branded it a ''reconnaissance'' mission ahead of an experiment later this year to see if a species of microbes can live at the edge of space.

Space buffs will already be familiar with Camilla, who is the mascot of Nasa's solar dynamics observatory.

Her first mission was on March 3  before the radiation storm and again on March 10 while it was underway.

During the two and a half hour flight, Camilla spent approximately 90 minutes in the stratosphere. The balloon popped, as planned, at an altitude of about 40km and Camilla parachuted safely back to Earth. The entire payload was recovered intact from a landing site in the Inyo Mountains.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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