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Seattle Sisters Launch Their Cat Into Space (Sort Of)

Rebecca Yeung (left), and Kimberly Yeung retrieve the Loki Lego Launcher outside Ritzville, WA, after the ballooncraft returned from the stratosphere.
Courtesy of the Yeung Family
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Rebecca Yeung (left), and Kimberly Yeung retrieve the Loki Lego Launcher outside Ritzville, WA, after the ballooncraft returned from the stratosphere.

Kim Malcolm speaks with Seattle sisters Rebecca, 11, and Kimberly Yeung, 9, about bringing their "spacecraft," the Loki Lego Launcher, to the White House Science Fair

Before the White House, the Loki Lego Launcher was just a family project. The girls built the craft at home, with equipment and instructions they found online. They made it out of plywood, arrow shafts, rope, a helium balloon and some styrofoam feet "in the event of a water landing." 

The craft's name came from two pieces of cargo: a Lego figurine of R2D2 and a picture of their late cat, Loki. There was also a flight computer, a GPS tracker, a temperature and pressure sensor and two GoPro cameras.

The two sisters released the ballooncraft in September 2015 outside Ritzville, Washington. It traveled to near space at 78,000 feet.

The camera captured a clear view of the Yeung girls' keepsakes floating in front of the blackness of space. When the balloon burst, the craft fell back to Earth and landed in a field -- near, but not on, a cow pie. 

The sisters made a video about their experience and posted a list of "lessons learned," including "don't guess, rely on data."

https://youtu.be/QCP5jZXoOhI

The White House invited Rebecca and Kimberly to present their creation Wednesday at President Obama's sixth and final White House Science Fair.

The AP reports that President Obama came over to Kimberly and Rebecca's table and, after examining the Loki Lego Launcher, said "but cow poop didn't get on this? You're sure?"

Year started with KUOW: 2013