URBANA - In less than 12 hours, the action-figure version of several "Star Trek" characters will be launched into space.
The student group "Space for All" organized the out-of-this-world project.
Take one look around this room and it's clear this isn't your average college apartment. "Maybe a lab, maybe a mad scientist's lair," said project manager Spencer Gore.
Mini cameras and old phones to work as GPS equipment are scattered around the room.
"These are our helium tanks. Each one is about $150 of helium," he added.
Launching balloons into outer space is more of a hobby than an experiment for the U of I student.
"Some of them have been scientific, some are just for fun. But this is by far the most complicated one we've ever done," said Gore. "We are taking an action figure, strapping it onto a massive party balloon that's going to go up four times the height of a jet liner. And it's going to take video from a place where the sky is black," said Gore.
And all the usual suspects are going for the ride. "For those non-Trekkies out there this is Captain Picard, he's a big deal," said Gore.
His shipmates Data and Riker will be at his side too.
"To actually send them into space, it's a lot more than just sending a bunch of dolls up there," said U of I student and participant Mallory Conlon. "I know for a lot people in the science field, Star Trek and Star Wars, mostly star trek, have been amazing inspirations as to why we go into this field." That's just one reason why these Trekkies can't wait to send their idols to the final frontier.
"They've got a few hundred million light years to go. But what they will be is when they're flying at their maximum altitude they'll be the second highest 'people' in the world just only behind the astronauts on the international space station," added Gore.
Space for All funded the project with donations and advertising. A website will have its logo hanging from the balloon. That way one of the several cameras going along for the ride can capture it during the trip.
Any profits this project earns will then go towards education programs related to balloon launching.