When BetOnline approached us last year with the idea of placing the first bet in space, it was all hands on deck at Sent into Space headquarters to make this dream come to fruition. Not only did we manage to successfully bring this idea to life, with a flawless result, we also achieved a world’s first in the process - the highest ever coin toss, at over 100,000 feet.
Who are BetOnline?
BetOnline are an online betting and casino platform, with a ‘focus on the player’ approach. They're well known for their innovative stunts, having raised over £20,000 for charities when they placed the first wager from Mount Everest base camp with veteran climber Tim Rippel.
We wanted to give BetOnline the chance to explore new territory by putting together a truly spectacular space launch for them featuring impressive on-theme, bespoke technology.
To witness this high-stakes, high-tech stunt watch the full video here!👇
How did Sent into Space achieve a world first?
After several months of hard work, our engineering team successfully designed and created the necessary components required for this multifaceted launch.
The entire setup spread across two purpose-built spacecraft. One craft centred around a highly-dexterous mechanical arm accompanied by a stylus. The stylus interacted with a space-capable digital display with BetOnline’s betting platform running live, connected to the ground through a live feed. When our GPS systems reached a pre-defined altitude point, a programme was initiated to trigger the robot arm’s programmed motion, enabling it to navigate the website and place the bet. Impressive stuff.
The other craft featured a rotating, custom-made coin that would stand as the deciding sortition at the flight’s climax, personalised with images of the brand’s ambassadors on either side to create a friendly rivalry that could be played out in supporting video content. The coin launch vehicle was released to the skies to complete the bet, with the heads or tails result to be discovered upon retrieval.
Both crafts were lifted into space on massive lighter-than-air hydrogen balloons, which expanded to the height of The White House as they rose above our planet. Each launch vehicle was fitted with a bespoke TT&C (telemetry, tracking, and control) module used to control the robot arm and transmit information down to the ground team. As per, all components were in smooth running order on the day and the launch was a success!
The launch has even been submitted to be considered for a Guinness World Record; only time will tell…
What difficulties did the engineering team face?
In order to achieve the impressive final result, the tech team had to overcome some pretty considerable logistical difficulties - after all, space is a rather extreme environment to navigate. One of the more unique challenges faced was the cold temperatures that exist higher up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Similar to how smartphones stop functioning at high temperatures due to the potential to permanently shorten battery life, the cold temperatures facing the robot arm also posed a threat to its performance. In response, Sent into Space’s engineers designed a system to carefully control the power supplied to each component of the launch’s design.
Another feature distinct to this launch was the highly-dexterous robotic arm. In order to move with such precision, the coding system in place had to be adjusted and uniquely tailored to allow for more complex movements to be made.
The tech team also had to generate a handshake protocol ensuring that commands had been sent from the launch vehicle to the ground team, and vice versa. Alongside the above, our engineers had to keep in mind levels of humidity, airflow (making sure that rotation/sway was minimised throughout the flight), radiation, pressure, and altitude, as usual planning the launch when the weather was working in our favour.
How was the unpredictability of the betting process incorporated into the launch?
Even with Sent into Space’s knowledge of our systems, the control of the coin, the speed of rotation, and the precise launch conditions experienced on the day, we wanted to make sure that there would be no way to predict which way the coin was facing when it landed. Our solution for this was simple – the unpredictable burst altitude of the balloon. Having altitude as the pre-determined factor and not movement was just one of the ways this launch proved to be a technical triumph.
When the craft touched ground, impact sensors terminated the spin wherever it was oriented, leaving one winning side presented upright and triumphant. By removing certain mechanisms from the launch vehicle, the result was left up to chance in the most beautiful way possible, truly capturing the thrilling element of chance key to the betting process.
If you're interested in our services, why not send us an enquiry? As the world's near space experts, we've conducted over 1000 successful launches with a 100% recovery rate. Our clients can rest assured that they're in safe hands. Check out our other projects and launches here. Contact us here.