A giant step for hamkind: Hamster survives daring trip into the stratosphere on a flying balloon | Offbeat News

It’s a big step forward for hamkind.

A guinea pig has successfully returned to Earth after being launched into the stratosphere in a hot air balloon.

The spacecraft reached a maximum altitude of 14 miles (23km) – and is in good health after being safely recovered from the waters off the Japanese island of Miyako.

According to Iwatani Giken, the company behind the daring experiment, the guinea pig was placed in an airtight cabin, 60cm high and 50cm in diameter, with the same atmospheric pressure and temperature as the ground.

One photo shows rodents gazing out a window seven miles (12km) from Earth.

The balloon was launched from Miyakojima, a city in Okinawa Prefecture, and ascended at an average speed of 6.3 meters per second.

A camera installed inside the cabin shows the animal sleeping comfortably during its gradual ascent.

Iwatani Giken is hoping to bring manned spaceflight to the masses, and the test is designed to give consumers confidence.

Further test flights at 15 miles (25km) are planned – and at this altitude people will be able to see the curvature of the Earth.

Running on wheels seems a bit uncomfortable for a hamster now because it has a preference for heights.

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