A soft toy which was lost in space is set to make a miraculous comeback for a second mission.
Sam the space dog, mascot of Morecambe’s Midland hotel, will this time be attached to a rocket and blasted to the stars.
Last year the fluffy canine became a global news sensation when he disappeared during a balloon flight more than 25km above the Earth.
The lost Sam was never found – but being a cuddly toy, thankfully there is more than one of him!
So later this month the famous doggie will once again help Morecambe Bay Primary School pupils with a science project when he is strapped into the 8m high Skybolt 2 research rocket.
The purpose of the flight, sponsored by the University of Chester, is to test onboard electronics and demonstrate a parachute recovery system to be used aboard Manchester-based Starchaser Industries’ future people-carrying rocket.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that Sam will be safely returned this time as he will fall to earth gently by parachute with the rocket intact,” said Ben Berry from English Lakes Hotels Resorts and Venues, managers of the Midland.
The mission also aims to encourage young people to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects in higher education.
The children of Morecambe Bay school and the Midland Hotel were invited to get involved in the project, with Sam the Dog offered a VIP status boarding pass. The flight will take place from a testing site in the North East in mid-September, weather permitting. The remote control rocket weighs approximately 250kg and is constructed mainly from carbon fibre, other composites and aerospace grade aluminium. It will be powered by a cluster of five solid propellant motors.
Steve Bennett from Starchaser Industries says: “The duration of Sam’s flight will be just under four minutes, but our rocket motors will provide enough thrust to accelerate him to the maximum permitted altitude of 4,000 feet in less than 20 seconds.”
Sam went missing in April 2016 after he was sent into orbit via helium balloon from the Midland hotel roof. In the aftermath, the hashtag #FindSam was shared all over Twitter, a Facebook page was set up hoping to locate the furry traveller and YouTube videos of Sam’s mission were watched more than 370,000 times. Morecambe Bay pupils who launched Sam appeared on BBC Breakfast News and visited the CBBC studios, and Sam’s story was covered by the New York Daily News, CBS, NBC, CNN and ABC in America, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Taiwan TV news as well as the BBC, Sky and national newspapers including the Independent and the Guardian in the UK.