In 2018, Audi added another first to its long list, when it became the first automotive manufacturer to send a sportscar into space.
13 May, 2020
Fans of the Audi brand will no doubt be aware of the Audi lunar quattro, the purpose-built vehicle developed by the brand to join an expedition to the moon. Movie goers will also know that this very vehicle also made an appearance in in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi adventure Alien: Covenant in 2017.
But what most don't know is that an Audi has already been in space, and it was not a purpose built lunar version either. In fact it the brand's own supercar, the R8. The year was 2018 when Audi and a team from Sent Into space literally launched a bright red Audi R8 into the great beyond, making Audi the first automotive manufacturer to send a sportscar into space.
The space launch was a reasonably low key affair, but nevertheless saw the R8 and a bespoke launch vehicle fitted with the very latest camera technology and long-range radio and satellite communications, climb from a remote field in Hillsborough, Sheffield to the very edge of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The firm Sent Into Space, as the name suggests, specialise in sending all manner of objects into space, from foodstuffs to toys to scientific equipment or, in this case a car. They use lighter-than-air gas balloons to travel to the upper stratosphere into Near Space for a really out of this world experience.
The company has successfully completed more than 500 flights in the last eight years for everything from stratospheric research, educational activities to marketing initiatives, engineering projects and even scattering personal ashes in space, so they certainly know what they’re doing.
They use renewable materials to construct the launch modules and indeed as much of the apparatus as possible and all electronics on the launch vehicle are powered using rechargeable power sources. Safety is obviously a prime consideration and every conceivable step is taken to ensure the safety of all those involved and also for members of the public. And equally as important, all equipment launched is recovered after every flight.
On this occasion, the miniature R8 was combined with its own bespoke ‘launch vehicle’ and began its voyage in the aforementioned field in Sheffield. From there it climbed aloft under its specially designed balloon filled with hydrogen gas until reaching its maximum height of 42 kilometres above the earth.
Once at its peak height, the balloon was remotely destroyed and the Audi supercar began its descent, powered in this instance by good old gravity alone.
The R8 eventually settled back to earth in another field, this time in Duggleby, North Yorkshire, some 90 kilometres away from where it was launched.
No there weren't marching bands or international television coverage, but an Audi had indeed been to space and back. Mission accomplished.
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