How much do you love EarthBound? Do you love it so much that you’d shoot it into space?
When Ronnie Doyle turned 14 recently, his grandfather bought him an unorthodox birthday gift. By making a donation to a crowdfunded science group called Earth To Sky Calculus, he gave his grandson the opportunity to shoot a small object into “a realm often called ‘the edge of space’”, documenting the whole thing with a video.
Doyle could pick anything “smaller than a lunchbox,” he told Kotaku, and decided on one of his prized possessions: His copy of Nintendo’s 1995 Super Nintendo RPG.
“The process of sending the game is very frightening,” Doyle said in an email. “This is a $200 [$AU270] game that has a big risk of not coming back in one piece. The cartridge was drilled into both sides to ensure it had a safe flight, but I decided to take that risk.”
The helium balloon holding the cartridge, launched from Doyle’s home state of California, had a GPS attached to it, which let the Earth To Sky Calculus team — made up of a group of high school kids and their teacher — find it once it landed. The game reached an altitude of 30,480m, where, according to the group, “the noontime sky fades to black, stars pop out, and meteors can be seen in broad ‘daylight’.”
The cartridge still works, Doyle said. For now, he’s keeping it in his retro game collection, “unless someone wants to trade Stadium Events for it.”
“As far as I know, this is the only copy of EarthBound that is not bound to earth,” he said.