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Putty in Space

Putty in Space

One of our loyal customers, Tim Canny, works in the aerospace industry and gave me a great idea: Why not send Thinking Putty into outer space?

Tim sent his industry contacts some Thinking Putty samples and turned up lots of leads and interested parties: astronauts, cosmonauts, engineers at NASA, the space tourism folks at Space Adventures, Burt Rutan and the SpaceShipOne team. All were interested or amused but none took the bait.

The people who work in publically funded space programs were bound by all sorts of rules prohibiting the mixing of commercial and non-commercial enterprises. Those working in the private sector just weren't willing to add any risk factors to their operation, no matter how insignificant. To me, this was understandable considering the immense cost of a spacecraft.

Finally, a solution appeared. The State of New Mexico decided to build a public spaceport for use by private companies. Quickly, a UP Aerospace announced a future launch date on which companies and individuals could reserve a space in the payload. Crazy Aaron sent in his crazy money and we were in!

In the mail we received a Space Box that was a pre-sized container that fit into a larger pod of cargo. We returned it with our spacebound Thinking Putty inside and waited for the March 2006 launch. Then we were informed we'd need to wait until the spaceport itself was completed.


We patiently waited as the launch date slipped from March to May to August. This private spaceport and private launch of what is basically a ballistic missile involved lots of red tape and government sign-off. UP Aerospace was in uncharted territory and things we taking a long time.

Finally on September 25th 2006, our Thinking Putty was aboard the rocket and ready for outer space. I watched the launch live over the internet and you can see it as well by clicking on the video here.

At 3-2-1-zero, the rocket shot into the sky to the jubilant cheers of the launch team. Then, just three seconds before the point of no return, the rocket began to spin out of control.

The crash site, in a very remote part of the White Sands Missile Range, kept the UP Aerospace team from recovering the remains for some time. However, eventually the rocket was recovered for analysis and the contents were sorted and returned to their owners.

When the rocket hit the ground it was traveling at hundreds of miles per hour. Thus, almost everything was destroyed. The 'Space Box' was obliterated and even strong titanium wedding bands were bent like clay. The one piece of cargo which survived unscathed was our Thinking Putty.

In the photo above, the shiny, translucent, white material that doesn't look like foam is our Thinking Putty. It was returned to us with all sorts of foam, plastic, and other unrecognizable cargo elements embedded in it. Released from its Space Box and heated by the intense climate of the desert, it had melted to surround everything.

Here are photos of our Payload Receipt, Accident Letter, and some of the 'Thinking Putty in matrix' which was returned to us.

UP Aerospace successfully launched their second rocket on April 28, 2007.

Next time we fly our Thinking Putty into space we'll have to come up with a creative way to get that Space Putty into your hands. Stay tuned!

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