Why did the chicken cross the troposphere?
To get to the other layer in Earth’s atmosphere.
A fried-chicken sandwich was carried by a giant balloon to the stratosphere on Thursday, where it will float for the next four days, reaching altitudes of 50,000 to 80,000 feet.
The flight is part publicity stunt, part launch test. It’s the product of an unlikely partnership between KFC, the fast-food chicken restaurant, and World View Enterprises, an Arizona-based company that develops high-altitude launch vehicles. KFC was trying to promote its Zinger sandwich, which it first developed in the 1980s for KFC’s locations in Trinidad and Tobago and spread to other countries, but which wasn’t sold in the United States until this April. KFC approached World View and offered to fund a test launch of their launch vehicle, called the Stratollite—if the sandwich got a seat onboard.
World View initially balked at the idea. “As you can imagine, when we first heard about it, we laughed our heads off,” Jane Poynter, World View’s chief executive, recently told The New York Times. “And when we picked ourselves off the floor, we actually thought it was really, really cool.”
KFC has been advertising the flight for weeks as a journey to space, which isn’t accurate. The boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space is at 330,000 feet above the surface, far higher than the Stratollite can reach.