Photo: Colin Anderson (Getty Images)
If you had the opportunity to shoot something (or someone) into orbit, what (or who) would it be? Perhaps a video game? Silly as that might sound, it’s exactly what 14-year-old Ronnie Doyle and his classmates opted to do, sending the classic SNES video game Earthbound into space. Oh, the irony!
Doyle’s grandfather had made a donation to a science group called Earth To Sky Calculus. As a thank you, he was allowed to send one object smaller than the size of a lunch box into space. That privilege was gifted to Doyle as a birthday present so, of course, he and his friends started looking for items they could send into extreme altitudes.
Eventually, they came to the conclusion it would be Nintendo’s cult classic Earthbound, in which you play a character who travels the world to collect eight melodies needed to defeat the evil alien force Giygas. The vintage video game sells for a couple hundred dollars on popular auction sites, a goldmine for a 14-year-old.
“The process of sending the game is very frightening,” Doyle said in an email to Kotaku. “This is a $200 game that has a big risk of not coming back in one piece. The cartridge was drilled into both sides to ensure it had a safe flight, but I decided to take that risk.”
Doyle and his classmates watched as a helium balloon holding the cartridge climbed to an elevation of around 100,000 feet before it eventually returned to the ground. Equipped with a GPS tracker, Doyle was able to find the balloon, recover the cartridge and place it in his Super Nintendo system. To his amazement, it still worked perfectly. We’re still blowing into our earthbound games just to get them to work.
What would you shoot into space? Something that might not be able to come back after being shot that far? A Michael Bay movie, perhaps? Michael Bay himself? Any other terrible Americans with too much power? The possibilities are endless.