121C has announced that it launched a carbon fiber skateboard to the edge of space above the Mojave Desert earlier this year. The event can be experienced in Virtual Reality (VR) narrated by NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría.
“The space jump of ‘Fearless’ Felix Baumgartner got us thinking about riding a skateboard down from space and that was the inspiration for this VR film.” said Ryan Olliges, President of 121C and a 2016 graduate in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southern California. Ryan continues, “It seems like a crazy stunt at first, but this was the perfect way to call attention to our ultralight carbon fiber decks.”
“The launch is even more appropriate since we build them from scrap material generated in the production of modern spacecraft.” said Greg Autry, cofounder of 121C and an Assistant Clinical Professor with the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Southern California. “Watching this VR while listening to Mike LA narrate his experience on a Soyuz flight to the Space Station is really pretty thrilling. Engineers love this stuff and we also hope to inspire a new positive and forward looking attitude in skate that appeals to mature, upscale skaters.”
The board and camera rig were launched using a helium weather balloon and safely descended via parachute. After reaching an estimated altitude of 90,000 ft a GPS tracking system with a satellite uplink helped to locate and recover the payload. The launch and recovery are described in detail in a 121C blog post.
The actual space skateboard, equipped with Shark Wheels and Randal trucks, can be acquired with a $2,500 pledge to the firm’s successful Kickstarter campaign which launched on June 16 and was fully funded by the next day. The campaign ends on July 30.
Olliges said, “I’d kind of like to keep it, but people like having the ‘first’ of just about anything. We think somebody will look at the amazing photos and VR and really want this odd bit of history.”