Doncaster primary school launches teddy bear inÂ genuine space mission
That's one small step for mankind '“Â but a giant leap for youngsters at Hexthorpe Primary Academy.
Youngsters at the school have launched a teddy bear into the edge of space after their own fundraising campaign to pay for the mission '“Â but only after delays including a cancelled launch.
Cosmo the bear was launched into the sky attached to a weather balloon, and released into the sky from the school fields on Urban Road.
Youngsters watched him soar into the sky and out of view as he made his way up into the heavens.
He later plunged back to earth, landing in near Coventry, before being returned to the school by post.
The launch followed a fundraising campaign to bring in experts from the organisation Sent Into Space, who run a scheme called Classtronaut, to arrange the mission, at the suggestion of year one teachers Bethany Fox and Louise Budhi.
They rallied the school pupils to raise Â£1,300 through a series of fundraising events at the school.
They kicked off with a fun run, which saw Louise dress up as an elephant and Bethany don a banana outfit, which raised Â£700. That was followed-up with a astronaut training day, made of themed stalls and games, Year five youngsters ran a film club, and the pupils finally completed reached their fundraising target by selling toast at the school.
The school bought a bear for the mission, and held a pupils' vote to name him, from the shortlist of Neil (after first man on the moon Neil Armstrong), Buzz (after second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin) or Cosmo.
Teaching assistant Malgorzata Kwasniewska made aÂ tiny schoolÂ T-shirt for Cosmo to wear on his mission.
By May, they were ready to go.
A date was booked late in July '“Â but in the style of so many space missions, they hit a snag.
The Civil Aviation Authority, whose permission was needed for the mission to go ahead, said they could not launch on the date they had planned, because of the number of drones operating in the area.
But after the school returned in September after the summer holidays, it was all systems go.
The launch was announced at an assembly in the morning, before experts explained what they planned to do.
The balloon was fitted with a camera and Cosmo was strapped into his seat in front of it.
Pupils watched as the balloon was filled with helium, before counting down to a 12noon launch agreed with the CAA.
'The children couldn't wait. They'd been asking about it for months,' said Louise.
Bethany said: 'The children were really excited.Â
'We thought it was amazing that you could see the curvature of the Earth on the pictures. When we showed the children they were so excited that you could see the clouds so far below Cosmo.
'I don't think they believed it was possible that we could send something into space '“Â I think some of them thought it was going to be imaginary. They were amazed when it really happened.
'The launch was amazing '“Â we counted down from 10Â before the balloon went up. The same evening, we got the message back that Cosmo had come back to earth and landed in a field near Coventry. The people who had arranged the mission tracked the landing and found him. They posted him back to us and he arrived back in Hexthorpe this week.
'This has been about raising aspirations.'
The school plans to give Cosmo the hero status they think he deserves by putting him on display.
But he has more challenges to come.
The school now plans to send himÂ on a deep sea dive in the future with a diver!