By Jim Misunas
“Project Space Burrito,” was a success from launch to landing.
The national publicity that Project Space Burrito has generated has surprised Great Bend High School seniors Aaron Mull and Jeff Keenan.
Their video was featured on “Good Morning America,” and the website mpviral.com has their video featured on their home page. They’ve done interviews for KSN-TV, newspapers and radio.
Their project was inspired by watching a video taped from a weather balloon during school.
Somehow, in a moment of inspiration that only a teenager could understand, they came up with the wild idea of launching a burrito into space on their video-equipped weather balloon.
“We wanted to do something creative, something different that no one had done,” Mull said.
They’ve garnered attention ever since Mull posted the video Sunday morning on youtube.com. Mull’s work in the theater arts at Great Bend High School prepared him for the media attention.
“We figured a couple friends and family would see it and share it, but we were pretty surprised by the attention,” Mull said. “Quite a few people have said something, more than we expected.”
They started planning the launch in December and researched what they needed — a 7-foot weather balloon, a Go Pro camera, helium and a burrito. They contacted businesses, which helped with donations. Launch conditions required a wind below 15 mph and the temperature couldn’t go below 32 degrees.
They chose A Go Pro camera after careful research. The Go Pro camera is preferred by surfers, skateboarders, snowboarders and X-Games specialists.
“You needed a camera that was waterproof and shockproof that offered a wide-angle shot,” Mull said. “It’s a very nice camera.”
Keenan donated his iPhone to use as a tracking device after they downloaded an application for GPS tracking through Google maps.
They had read that clearance for launching an object is required through the FAA, but the 2.9-pound Styrofoam container was under the 4-pound requirement for approval.
Their final detail was finding a source of helium, which has become in short supply. Fortunately, EQ Muffler of Great Bend was able to help with a helium container.
Playa Azul donated the burrito and everything went off as planned Feb. 18 from downtown Great Bend. The iPhone tracking proved helpful, especially when the weather balloon disappeared in a southwesterly direction. The camera taped for just over two hours, which they edited to four minutes.
The aerial shots are breathtaking. Shots of Great Bend change into various images of the clouds.
At the highest point in the stratosphere, the camera captures an image of space’s blackness with the sun in the background and the blue ozone layer of the Earth.
Later on, when they checked for coordinates, they were surprised to discover higher-altitude winds carried the weather balloon 95 miles northeast to just north of Solomon. The weather balloon will pop above 90,000 feet, where temperatures can reach minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Once it was on the ground we were able to get a live coordinate through Google maps,” said Mull. “We learned that winds can be completely different in the jet stream.”
Mull tasted a bite of the burrito lauched into space and compared it to cold ravioli.
Overall, Mull said the experience exceeded his expectations.
“It was pretty amazing, such a cool project,” Mull said. “The hardest part was editing two hours of taping into a couple of minutes.”
Their sponsors included Playa Azul, Memories by Morgan, Stone Sand Company, Victory Barber Shop, Afternoon Stars, Mary’s Kitchen, Walmart, A440 Music, Macs TeeBox, and RockingMRadio 107.9.
To see Mull and Keenan’s videos, visit: