Bakewell pudding made it 52,000 feet up before going radio silent

By Tim Nelson
Updated June 21, 2018
Credit: myibean/Getty Images

Since the dawn of time, mankind has gazed upward at the cosmos, wondering what’s out there. While satellites and manned space flights have given us humans a closer look, earth’s pastries haven’t had the same chance to rise above the clouds and explore the outer reaches of our planet’s atmosphere. Some plucky British schoolchildren decided to change that, but now have something of a mystery on their hands.

Earlier this week, a group of intrepid young scientists at S. Anselm’s preparatory school took a Bakewell pudding, tied it to a high-altitude balloon, and sent it skyward. Filled with jam, topped with a ground almond paste, and outfitted with a tracking device, this spacefaring English treat made it as high as 52,000ft (or 16,000 meters) above Saxilby, taking photos and recording atmospheric temperature along the way. But suddenly, contact was severed. As far as we know, the dessert has disappeared.

Not since ground control lost Major Tom’s signal has the British public been so enamored with a woebegone spacefaring vessel. Noted funny Briton Stephen Fry weighed in, expressing sadness over the loss of Britain’s latest unmanned space flight.

S. Anselm’s very own “space force” is holding onto hope of a recovery, citing the return of a past balloon. “Last year, we launched a high-altitude balloon in preparation for this experiment and it was found by a couple on a beach near Skegness, who used the contact details on the balloon to let us know where it ended up,” said Lizz Scott, the school’s director of studies."We're hoping the same thing will happen again and we'll find out where the pudding ends up."

Though we may never know what becomes of this particular Bakewell or if the balloon reached its target altitude of 114,000 feet, the experiment’s already been a success from a charitable perspective. Students secured sponsorships from local businesses before the launch, raising around £1,600 for Guide Dogs for the Blind in the process.

So if you see a Bakewell pudding fall out of the sky, count your lucky stars, because you’ve found a dessert that is quite literally out of this world.