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Paper plane launched into space

A miniature plane, with a 3-foot wingspan and composed entirely of paper, is launched into space and returns safely.

We tend to think of paper planes as small things, thrown in class in order to get 7-year-olds through the crushing boredom of, say, arithmetic.

But you might not have guessed that some adventurous sort would, one day, try to build a paper plane with a three-foot wingspan.

If you did, I feel sure that it would not have crossed your mind, as it did that of three British amateurs, to build a paper plane with a three-foot wingspan and send it into space.

John Oates, one of the threesome, cheerily told the BBC: "I knew we'd be able to get some stuff into space." However, he admitted that he was more than a little stunned to track the plane, find it when it returned to Earth 100 miles from where it started and even locate the payload with the camera equipment.

Recently a man and his 7-year-old son sent an iPhone into space with an HD camera.

But the chances of sending something made of paper up there, on a helium balloon that detached itself leaving the plane to soar free, and seeing it return seem rather less sure.

The experiment took place over Spain and, according to the Daily Mail, the paper plane, called Vulture 1, went 17 miles high and cost a mere 8,000 British pounds (roughly $12,000) to launch. Well, it was entirely made out of paper straws that were covered in paper.

The PARIS (Paper Aircraft Release Into Space) Team have posted pictures from the flight to Flickr. You will be astounded to hear that the three men are all a little technologically inclined and discussed their project on the tech site The Register.

I cannot currently confirm that their next project is to send a spaceship made of chewing gum and chopsticks to Mars. But it would surely undercut any NASA project by quite a few dollars.