In a bid to impress Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, U.K. astro-photography enthusiasts Phil J Pier and Matt Kingsworth did the only appropriate thing: they sent a Star Wars toy into space, S-foils locked and ready for attack. (Well, near-space … but we’ll give it to them.)
The pair are the masterminds behind Project Helium Tears (PHT), an independent cohort of amateur photographers united by their passion for astronomy, and desire to help nerd kind. Sending camera-carting weather balloons into the stratosphere is business as usual for the PHT team, but bringing the iconic starfighter along for the ride was a shameless attempt at landing tickets to the SWTFA film premier. “Those kinds of requests, well, usually end in ‘no,'” they say. “We know Abrams likes practical effects and shooting in real locations, and we love that there are X-Wings in the new film so [this seemed like the perfect move].”
The X-Wing made it 33 kilometers (just over 20 miles) up, before finally making its descent back to Earth– not too shabby when you consider Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking Red Bull Stratos jump was made from just 38 km. “We know we were only a third of the way there Kármán line, [the end of our atmosphere], but it was our first launch and it was space enough for us!” Whether the stunt will catch Abrams’ attention remains to be seen, but we’re giving them an A for effort. Hell, they even got the sun to cooperate for a signature Abrams lens flare.
You can follow along with any future launches using #HeyJJ
Images: Project Helium Tears