Pima County taxpayers have once again played a part in a failed experiment after World View’s balloon sprung a leak during its recent public relations stunt involving sending a KFC sandwich into the stratosphere.
According to Geekwire.com, “World View Enterprises said its “Zinger 1” mission to keep a KFC chicken sandwich aloft in the stratosphere was terminated earlier than planned, due to a small leak in an altitude-control balloon system on its Stratollite platform. The company’s CEO, Jane Poynter, said today in a statement that the payload was brought down about 17 hours after the balloon launch on Thursday in Arizona. “Within the first few hours of flight, all system test objectives were met,” she said. Poynter added that the chicken sandwich “performed flawlessly.” World View is developing the Stratollite balloon platform as a low-cost alternative to satellites, and eventually plans to send tourists up for hours-long excursions. So tell Colonel Sanders to keep that Kentucky-colonel spacesuit handy.”
Taxpayers first learned of the debacle from Tucson radio show host Chris DeSimone on the Wake Up Tucson show on Wednesday morning. While the mission to send a chicken sandwich into space was supposed to create public interest, the mission was shrouded in secrecy.
The secrecy is believed to be due in part to the embarrassing allegation that Pima County taxpayers funded the company’s building and launchpad but the FAA has not approved the pad’s use. As a result, the KFC mission was launched in Page, Arizona.
According to the Verge.com, “Before last week’s launch, the balloon had only flown between six and 12 hours. World View wanted to fly the balloon for four days to test how several parts of the Stratollite — like its altitude control system, communications systems, and solar power technology — would work together over a longer period. But the systems they wanted to test weren’t what went awry — the balloon was.”
Blasting News reports that the “publicity stunt for KFC would have been the first time the Stratollight would have stayed airborne for more than twelve hours, building up to the design specifications of being able to stay up for months on end.”