When bank bosses planned an out of this world credit card launch they turned to ... Sheffield.
Only fitting organisers of the other-worldly experience contacted SentIntoSpace experts from the city that produced Dr Helen Sharman, first Brit astronaut and only woman to visit Mir space station.
Sheffield experts, celebrated here by timely space quiz, successfully rose to challenge of MBNA's platinum credit mission to dizzy heights of 20 miles, where the plastic card survived temperatures plummeting to shivering -60oC.
Steel City's authorities on our atmosphere pored over findings from Met Office radiosonde balloons recording weather patterns before applying science and implementing launch mode toward 110,000 feet final frontier edge of space.
“Rain is fine,” explained SentIntoSpace technical manager Louis Cox. "The big thing was the wind because that affects the drift and where the balloon carrying the card is going to end up.
"We had to cancel the first launch because our projections showed it landing too close to Leeds. You want to land in a field wherever possible, rather than straying too close to any major roads or built-up areas”.
Civil Aviation Authority and other airspace users advised, it was all systems go with the card-carrying balloon eventually soaring from a Sheffield site ... at a leisurely 15 miles per hour compared to average 18,000 mph space shuttle speedy take-off.
The card itself was secured in 3D-printed aluminium bracket as six insulation foam and foil-wrapped GoPro cameras captured all aspects of the flight of fancy.
Decreasing pressure caused the helium-filled balloon to expand as it climbed, stretching to 10 metres diameter before popping. Descent saw the rig free-fall at a speed of more than 100 metres per second - equivalent to over 220mph - before its parachute opened to duly deliver the elements weathered card safely down to earth in the form of a Castleford field.
On-board GPS allowed SentIntoSpace team to keep tabs on exactly where the payload was. “We’re pretty good at plotting where the payload is going to touch down," explained Louis.
“Our aim is one day to be there so we can actually catch it. As you can imagine, this is a job that involves a lot of running around in fields”.