Hi Cambridgeshire Scouts,

I’m Bagheera here at the 28th Cambridge Cub Pack. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of two scouts called Neil and Buzz walking on the moon we decided we would try and put a Cub into space!

I’m writing to say the launch was a success and we have recovered our Space Cub (does that make him an Astroscout?) from his landing site, 350 miles away, southeast of Paris. His name is Douglas and he was wearing our group’s green and black necker proudly.

I told the cubs in the early Spring of my plans and they did some NASA space training and we ran tests with aptitude scores. One or two cubs were skeptical, and there were lots of questions, but I assured them that we were genuinely going to put a cub, just one, no leader along, into space. I explained the mechanics of it, that we were doing this on a shoestring budget and that we’d launch from the grass behind the hut. We got approval from Gilwell and the CAA and our local airport even agreed to close the airport to nightflights that evening, Tuesday the 9th of July, for us.

I told the cubs that there were four criteria to choosing the cub who was going to launch

  1. Aptitude – we had the scores from the NASA tests (using their school outreach programme)
  2. Consent – the cub had to say they were happy to go – about 1/3rd said no!
  3. Permission – their parents had to give permission – two mums said yes (one tongue in cheek, the other not paying attention!)
  4. Weight – this was actually the main criteria, but I didn’t make a big thing of it

We lined up the cubs across the hut by height. At this point we had had at least a dozen or so of our 24 cubs who had given consent and were at least partially convinced that one of them was going into space – this was probably the best outcome of the whole event – to have a 9 year old going to bed after Cubs thinking they might genuinely go into space was fantastic. I worked along the line with the aptitude scores and Akela stood at the small end. Eventually, to the disappointment of some excited faces at the smallest end, I skipped past the last few and Akela with a flourish produced our stuffed cub mascot from behind his back.

Yes, we put our small furry cub into space! We launched him under a Helium balloon into the Stratosphere, about 20 miles up. He landed in a field in France and a mum (who’d been a scout) and her daughters found him and gave him a hero’s welcome to their little village.

There is a full writeup with some of the pictures and videos here: http://www.28thcambridgescouts.org.uk/cubs/cubinspace.html

It was to have happened quite quickly and to have returned a photo of the cub in space the next day, ready to put out on social (and even national) media before the 20th of July anniversary but things didn’t go according to plan – the lift at launch was slow and that is why he eventually landed in France – we were lucky not to have lost him in the Channel. As the tracker device had gone flat by then we had to wait for a combine harvester driver to spot him before we got him back. The altitude tracking worked, but the external camera was lost, either a fatality during the flight or eaten by the combine harvester than nearly munched him after landing.

However, we have him back, together with the souvenir Shrinkles the Cubs and Beavers (and some Scouts) made, which they’ll get back with a certificate to say that the little drawing they made has been into space!

AKA Bagheera, 28th Cambridge Scouts