KFC’s Space Sandwich Mission Comes To An Abrupt End

In today’s cutthroat world of marketing, your average brand has to work extra hard to engage their customers, lest they express dissatisfaction with your product or service and defect to a competitor. It’s difficult to find a company worth its salt without a prominent online presence, but there’s a humble chicken restaurant who have gone the extra mile when it comes to bizarre publicity stunts.

Back in May, KFC released Tender Wings of Desire, which was a romance novel featuring the figurehead of the chicken empire, Colonel Sanders, and they’ve followed that up by going boldly where no man has gone before (with chicken). Chickens can’t fly for very long, however, and that appears to apply just as much if that chicken is deep fried; the Zinger sandwich they sent into orbit had to come crashing down just 17 hours into its journey.

Last Thursday (June 29), KFC, in conjunction with the spaceflight company World View, launched a Zinger chicken sandwich 77,000 feet above the Earth’s surface, using World View’s Stratollite, a large balloon. Stratollite is a space system that World View CEO Jane Poynter hopes can one day be used to take pictures of Earth from space. In an e-mail, she noted that this chicken sandwich’s journey would be a rare opportunity for “developing and testing some core systems capabilities that we’ve never had before”.

“For example, this is the first time we’ll be testing our solar power system, which is the on-board, regenerative power system that will allow the Stratollite vehicle to ultimately fly for months at a time without interruption. We’re also developing and testing a real-time HD video downlink system, among other critical systems improvements.”

For World View, that meant launching a chicken sandwich into space, but the mission was cut short after a leak was discovered in the balloon. This Zinger’s mission may have been cut short, but 17 hours was still the Stratollite’s longest journey so far, and although the balloon failed, the Stratollite’s computer system performed admirably.

The Zinger crashed back to Earth on July 3, just before Independence Day, and in response to the sandwich’s safe return, Poynter stated: “Our special payload passenger, KFC’s Zinger Spicy Chicken Sandwich, performed flawlessly and experienced incredible views from the edge of space”.

For World View, it’s back to the drawing board, as they work out the best way to keep their balloon secure in the unforgiving vacuum of space. With respect to KFC, I’m not sure what’s going on with their marketing department, but I like it. After a romance novel and a space expedition, what will they come up with next? I’ve no idea, but if you’d like to keep up to date with KFC’s space mission, then you can keep an eye out on the official website.

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