Toy Train in Space

So Ron Fugelseth decided it would be cool to send his son's toy train into space. Turns out, it was.

So Ron Fugelseth decided it would be cool to send his son’s toy train into space. Turns out, it was.

Here’s his description:

On Aug 24th 2012 we sent my son’s favorite train “Stanley” to space in a weather balloon with a HD camera and an old cell phone for GPS. He was recovered 27 miles away in a corn field and we got some great footage of the trip. This video documents the journey from liftoff to landing.

And a response to those concerned about safety:

First off, I called the FAA 15 minutes before launch (per their instructions) so they could make sure no planes fly into the flight path. I read and followed all their rules for weather balloon launches. It had a homemade radar reflector, and a 3 foot parachute.

Second, the box was only 2 pounds and made of foam core, with a wooden dowel to hold Stanley in front of the camera. I spent two months monitoring the winds with this website to pinpoint the general area that he would land. For safely, I launched him from a location that I knew would bring him down into farm land. The prediction website was only 5-10 miles off, so he landed safely in a corn field, far away from any towns.

I didn’t want Stanley to be a murderer. Plus I wanted to make sure my son got Stanley back. 🙂

Via Joshua Foust, who sees it as “conclusive evidence that you are an inadequate parent.”

FILED UNDER: Parenting, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. john personna says:

    Sending stuff into space is a fairly common “maker” activity now.

    Personally I think it ties to Tyler Cowen’s “there is no great stagnation” gag. But in what sense I’m not sure. We have a lot of available tech, easily reconfigured by interested amateurs. When anyone can send a toy into space, why is unemployment at 8%? I don’t know.

  2. James in LA says:

    Okee I found myself laughing at this joy-ride! What a marvelous gift! Can I be the train next?

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Great, because I really needed some guy to make me feel more like a lazy, negligent father.

  4. Anderson says:

    Wow. My 8-year-old (autistic Thomas-the-Tank-Engine fan) just found his new favorite video. Thanks for posting!

  5. DC Loser says:

    I better not let my wife see this.

  6. ernieyeball says:

    Enquiring minds want to know.
    I am not familiar with Stanley the train engine. Does he move his eyes and mouth when at ground Zero?
    Isn’t that Esperanto for dipstick?

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Another enterprising father/son duo did this a couple years ago and I was mesmerized by the video. Made me grateful I raised my sons 20 years ago before technology made it so easy to make me feel like an inadequate father.

    Then again, I did take them caving all over the USofA, Mexico, and Spain where they got to do everything from rappelling into 400 foot deep pits(I did take my oldest to Sotano de las Golandrinas, but at 1,400 feet I thought it might be too much pit for him at the time), to seeing the most beautiful cave in the world (Vallgornera… google it) to canyoneering.

    So maybe I didn’t do so bad?

  8. Anderson says:

    Ernie: the toy does not, but the character in the TV show does. The dad evidently dubbed that in.

  9. Franklin says:

    The question is whether I show this to the kids or not. Because the first question will be, “can we do this?”

  10. ernieyeball says:

    @Anderson: I kinda’ thought so. And it is cute. But will this lead to other questions about what is real and what is photoshopped?
    With humility I must retract my slam at Foust. In my haste to be clever and not actually think things through I missed that he meant other parents and not Citizen Fugelseth.