You’ve probably heard of the classic “egg drop” experiment, where a person tries to prevent a raw egg from breaking after dropping it from ever-increasing elevations. But have you heard of an egg drop from space ? Mark Rober, a former NASA and Apple engineer turned YouTuber, spent three years trying to perfect the world’s highest egg drop, documenting his quest to see if an egg could survive after freefalling from space in a now-viral video.
“If I really wanted to future-proof this record, I realized I would need to go all the way to the top and straight to outer space,” Rober explained at the start of his video. “When I started on this journey three years ago, I knew if I could draw my experience of landing stuff on other planets, I would be guaranteed the record. But what I didn’t know was that this would be the most physically, financially, and mentally draining video I would ever attempt.”
After four unsuccessful attempts, a series of “dumb failures,” scrubbed launches and seemingly endless modifications, Rober, along with the help of a team of other former personnel from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory , finally found success by sending a rocket holding an egg up to an altitude of over 100,000 feet, or 19 miles, to the Earth’s stratosphere via a high-altitude balloon. After the rocket, equipped with tail fins for steering, was released from the balloon, it would aim for a landing on an earthbound mattress and release the egg to freefall from around 300 feet up.
For the experiment, Rober borrowed heavily from Curiosity’s 2012 landing, during which NASA safely put a rover on Mars . Rober’s 27-minute video, which was released on Nov. 25, has already garnered over 22 million views. He also documented his egg drop journey on social media, and his followers were floored by the results.
“Mark can engineer an egg to drop from space without breaking. Meanwhile, I can’t get my eggs home from the grocery store without one of them breaking,” commented one YouTube user. “It’s crazy how much time and energy he puts into all his projects no matter how difficult or ridiculous they may seem,” wrote another.
In his video, Rober concluded that the experiment also served as a reminder to him of the payoffs of persevering and not giving up. “I was reminded that in life, things rarely unfold how we think they will,” he said. “But by learning from your failures, coupled with a bit of tenacity, us humans can accomplish a feat as incredible as the world’s smartest Martian robot, or as ridiculous as the world’s tallest egg drop.”
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