Inspired by the notion that its new Zinger sandwich is out of this world, KFC promised to take its brand (and the sandwich) to space—and it’s making good on the promise with the Zinger 1 Space Mission.
Partnering with World View, the fast-food chain will launch its Zinger chicken sandwich to the edge of space. The mission will be the longest controlled stratospheric balloon flight with a commercial payload in history and a first multi-day mission for the World View Stratollite™ flight system.
“We’re excited to be the ones pushing spicy, crispy chicken sandwich space travel forward,” stated Kevin Hochman, KFC US president. “But in all seriousness, we’re proud to support World View’s commitment to advancing space research and trust them to take our world famous Zinger sandwich to space.”
— KFC (@kfc) June 9, 2017
Stratollites differ from typical high-altitude balloons as they can circumnavigate the Earth and maintain position over specific areas for days, weeks, and even months on end. The potential for Stratollites includes stationary Wi-Fi hubs in remote or undeveloped areas without internet access, monitor crisis situations as they unfold, predict weather events days in advance, and overall aid first responders with rapid communications and surveying capabilities.
“The Stratollite was created to deliver meaningful access to space for all,” said Taber MacCallum, CTO and co-founder of the Tucson-based World View. “This mission offers edge-of-space access to KFC, allowing them to embark upon a one-of-a-kind marketing experiment, while we get to pursue our maiden multi-day Stratollite shakedown cruise and open unprecedented access to the stratosphere. It’s a double win.”
Will the Zinger be able to survive the harsh elements of space? Only time and this giant hypobaric chamber will tell. Also, yes, it will. pic.twitter.com/b82HNmPjNM
— KFC (@kfc) June 13, 2017
World Stratollites offer low-cost, long-duration, persistent high-altitude flight for enterprise and government agencies. But the ultimate goal is tourism – and their Voyager human spaceflight experience, under development, will offer private citizens a comfortable, safe, and perspective-changing voyage to the edge of space via high-altitude balloon. www.WorldView.space.
The Voyager ride would take five to six hours, in a cabin with large windows, and amenities including a bathroom, a bar, and Wi-Fi — for $75,000 a ticket. Those on board would be high enough to see the curvature of Earth and the blackness of space, just short of the 62-mile-high threshold regarded as the edge of space.
This demonstration flight with KFC will test the inherent technologies of Stratollites including solar panels and navigation that uses prevailing winds to steer to any part of the world and then hover over a particular spot. It will stay aloft for at least four days.
The Zinger, a spicy fried chicken sandwich that’s hand-breaded, was originally created in 1984 for restaurants in Trinidad and Tobago and wasn’t sold in the US until recently, but is now consumed in more than 120 countries.
“As you can imagine, when we first heard about it, we laughed our heads off,” said Jane Poynter, World View’s CEO, to the New York Times. “And when we picked ourselves off the floor, we actually thought it was really, really cool.”
“People kept calling. ‘Could you fly this payload?’” MacCallum, World View’s CTO, added. “NASA gave us a contract to fly payloads. And then other folks called and said, ‘Could you fly a radar? Or could you do this?’ All these ideas started coming in, and we were just like, in the beginning, kind of flat-footed about this.”
But as Poynter notes, “If you fly a chicken sandwich to space, why can’t you fly anything? You’re really showing how you can make space accessible to almost anyone at almost anytime for almost anything.”
The launch is set for June 21st, and KFC plans several promotional events back on Earth during the four-day trip. Making things extra crispy: the mission’s official patch.