Friday May 16th, 2014

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) launched a cricket ball "to the edge of space" to celebrate the NatWest T20 Blast Competition. A team of engineers figured out how to launch an official match ball to an elevation of 110,000 feet before letting it freefall back to Earth.

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From the ECB's website:

The white ball, used in every game of this season’s NatWest T20 Blast competition, was attached to a helium balloon and endured temperatures of –54oC and pressure of 9.9mbar at peak altitude. During its freefall, the ball reached speeds of up to 500mph before a parachute deployed and it travelled safely back to earth, landing in Newbury, Hertfordshire, in near-perfect condition.

In the interests of full scientific disclosure, the "edge of space" is a bit of an overstatement. The Kármán Line represents the boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and outer space, and it lies 100 km above Earth (which is substantially farther than the cricket ball traveled). But this cricket ball still traveled where no cricket ball has gone before, and deserves to be recognized for its achievement.

The NatWest T20 Blast Competition is a round-robin cricket tournament that kicks off today and concludes on August 23. [England and Wales Cricket Board]

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