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To boldly go where no bear has before

Silver: Derek the Steiff in the silver Lycra suit he wil wear in space

Silver: Derek the Steiff in the silver Lycra suit he wil wear in space

This little fellow is set to go where no bear has gone before when he is blasted into space.

Derek the Steiff teddy will be sent up to 12 miles above sea level attached to a weather balloon, to measure data in the troposphere in a specially-designed space suit.

Preston-based costume manufacturers Milano were called in to design 1ft-tall Derek’s silver Lycra suit, which will have to withstand extremes of temperature and safely house his data sensors for his day above the Earth.

The Bow Lane firm has created costumes for world-class gymnasts and Britain Got Talent winners Spelbound but it is the first time one of their designs will take to the skies.

Managing director Neil Fox said: “It’s a challenge we’ve never faced before.

“We’ve made all sorts of costumes but this will be the first one in space.

“It had to fit but have room for expansion and contraction.

“I’m a great believer in schools so we did it for free.”

Milano production manager Leona Seville and her team had just three days to create the stretchy suit and emboss it with logos, so anyone who finds Derek will know where to return him.

She said: “We all had to put our heads together but we’re quite chuffed with how it turned out.”

The project was the idea of year seven to nine science pupils at Toynbee School in Eastleigh, Hampshire, as part of a physics experiment.

They teamed up with the Institute of Physics and University of Southampton to help get Derek airborne.

He will be launched on the weather balloon from the New Forest on Saturday and is expected to fall to earth again about 24 hours later.

Daisy Fox, deputy head of science at the school, said: “The students will investigate things like temperature and pressure changes from ground level to the upper atmosphere in space.

“They are also learning about GPS and tracking and have really got into it.

“Derek will get to a point where he gets so high, the balloon will pop and he will come back down. We need to be careful he doesn’t drift where he’s not meant to.

“The kids are really impressed with how his costume design has turned out.”

 

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