Amateur scientists say they have launched a model cannolo – a Sicilian cream-packed pastry roll – nearly 30km above Earth.
The ‘pastry’ was attached to a homemade spacecraft – which was powered by a large helium balloon – and sent into the Earth’s stratosphere.
The team behind the bid, from Enna, Sicily, said they wanted to boost the reputation of the island, long-plagued by violent, organised crime.
“Sicily has always been a place of negative connotations, mafia and unemployment. We wanted to lift up Sicily in our own way,” said filmmaker Fabio Leone, 34, who recorded the project with Antonella Barbera, 38.
The project cost around 350 euros. Their homemade spacecraft was equipped with two cameras and a GPS tracker, captured stunning and comical images as the cannolo soared above the clouds towards space.
It rose to at least 29,768 metres according to Paolo Capasso, 37, a computer technician responsible for the careful calculations behind the launch.
As a real cannolo would be unlikely to survive the voyage, the group made a model of the cherry-studded pastry with a polymer clay material hardened in an oven.
The craft had to weigh under 2 kilos to qualify for the easiest official permits required to fly into high altitude.
The body of the craft was made from an insulated ice cream box, which protected the camera batteries from temperatures that dropped below -50 degrees Celsius.
Atmospheric pressure decreased as the Cannolo Transporter rose, causing the balloon to expand until it eventually burst.
It then tumbled back to earth, slowed by a small parachute. It landed in hills near the village of Bompietro, 25 km (15 miles) from where had been launched at the peak of the Rocca di Cerere nature park. It was recovered by the team who followed the GPS signal on a hunt through fields of sheep.