'Sicilian Space Programme': Amateur scientists send pastry into space [video]

The homemade spacecraft, complete with onboard cameras, cost just 350 euros and was taken into the stratosphere by a large helium filled balloon

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The Independent Online

Amature scientists in Sicily have launched a small model of a cannolo - a cream-filled pastry roll which is a symbol of the Italian island - into the stratosphere using a homemade spacecraft.

The 'Sicilian Space Programme', which cost just €350, reached at least 29,768 metres according to Paolo Capasso, 37, a computer technician who carried out the careful calculations behind the launch.

The spacecraft, branded the 'Cannolo Transporter', was attached to a large helium-filled balloon and came complete with a GPS tracker and two cameras that were able to capture a humorous video as the cannolo soared above the clouds towards space.

The craft was made from an insulated ice cream box, which protected the camera batteries from temperatures that dropped below -50 degrees Celsius.

As a stand-in for a real cannolo, which is unlikely to have survived the journey, the team made a model of the pastry using a polymer clay material hardened in an oven.


The project had symbolic importance as well as being a scientific feat, Mr Capasso and his two partners, all natives of the island town of Enna, told Reuters.

“Sicily has always been a place of negative connotations, mafia and unemployment. We wanted to lift up Sicily in our own way,” said filmmaker Fabio Leone, 34, who recorded the project with Antonella Barbera, 38.

Long plagued by organised crime, the heavily indebted island was forced to impose a strict spending programme by Rome in 2012. Sicily now has one of the highest unemployment rates in Italy.

After it’s trip into space, the Canola Transporter slowly fell back to earth, carried by a small parachute which was triggered when the expanding balloon finally burst.

The miniscule craft landed in hills near the village of Bompietro, 15 miles from where it had been launched at the peak of the Rocca di Cerere nature park. It was recovered by the team who followed the GPS signal.