KFC Prepares for Zinger Launch to Stratosphere and Back
Ground Control to Colonel Sanders: “You’ve really made the grade. Commencing countdown. Spicy, crispy Zinger ready to boldly go where no chicken sandwich has gone before. Want fries with that?”
KFC and World View Enterprises announced on June 13 that they have partnered to launch the Zinger chicken sandwich to the edge of space and then bring it back, along with telemetry data. The stratospheric publicity stunt will not quite be out of the world, but pretty close to it.
As far as the Tucson, Arizona-based World View team is concerned, the flight is a lot more than a vehicle to generate publicity for both parties. “When KFC first brought this to us, we had a good chuckle,” said CEO Jane Poynter. “But if you can fly a chicken sandwich to the edge of space … you can fly really just about anything.”
“Pushing the boundaries of space exploration and fried chicken technology, the mission will be the longest controlled stratospheric balloon flight with a commercial payload in history and the first-ever multi-day mission of the World View Stratollite flight system,” according to a statement issued from KFC headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.
Unlike typical high-altitude balloons, Stratollites can execute a variety of flight profiles – from circumnavigating the globe to loitering over a specific location – and maintain position over specific areas of interest for days, weeks, and eventually months on end. The Zinger Stratollite launch window opens on June 21.
The flight plan calls for the helium balloon’s payload to remain high in the southwestern sky for four or more days after being launched from a site approximately 40 miles east of Tucson. While airborne, high definition video will be beamed down to Earth from heights of 60,000 to 75,000 feet.
From its founding in 1930 by Colonel Harland Sanders, KFC has approached its business with an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, which lives on today through partnerships with breaking edge companies like World View. With this application of the Stratollite, together the two brands are showing that rockets are no longer the only way to get payloads to and from space.
"We're excited to be the ones pushing spicy, crispy chicken sandwich space travel forward," said Kevin Hochman, president of KFC operations in the United States. "But in all seriousness, we're proud to support World View's commitment to advancing space research and trust them to take our world famous Zinger sandwich to space."
Representing enormous untapped potential, Stratollites could serve as stationary Wi-Fi hubs in remote or undeveloped areas that may not have existing Internet access, or monitor ongoing crisis situations from a previously inaccessible vantage point. Future flights could be used for disaster preparedness and response – from predicting weather events days in advance, to monitoring ongoing or quickly arising weather and disaster events (for example, forest fire detection) – ultimately assisting first responders with rapid communications and surveying capabilities.
"The Stratollite was created to deliver meaningful access to space for all," said Taber MacCallum, World View co-founder and chief technology officer. "This mission offers edge-of-space access to KFC, allowing them to embark upon a one-of-a-kind marketing experiment, while we get to pursue our maiden multi-day Stratollite shakedown cruise and open unprecedented access to the stratosphere. It's a double win."
In April “Mission Commander” Colonel Sanders announced the arrival of the KFC Zinger in the US as an individual sandwich or as a $5 Fill Up combo meal. Created by KFC, the Zinger is made with a double hand-breaded, 100 percent chicken breast filet and served with lettuce and Colonel's mayonnaise on a toasted sesame seed bun. Originating in Trinidad and Tobago in 1984, the sandwich is now available in more than 120 countries. KFC units in Australia alone sells more than 22 million of them each year.