Come the end of June, KFC’s Zinger chicken sandwich will truly be in rare air.
Stratospheric exploration company World View announced Tuesday it plans to carry the chicken chain’s sandwich during the first extended duration development flight of its high-altitude Stratollite. In other words: KFC’s chicken sandwich is headed to space, or at least to the stratosphere, some 60,000—80,000 feet above Earth’s surface.
“We’re excited to be the ones pushing spicy, crispy chicken sandwich space travel forward,” says Kevin Hochman, KFC U.S. president, in a statement. “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.”
The launch window opens June 21 and the flight will be broadcast live. KFC even has an entire website dedicated to the experience.
One of World View’s ultimate goals is to send passengers on five- to six-hour flights on a system called Voyager. Tickets are currently selling for $75,000, with a target date of sometime in 2017.
But for now, the company will forge ahead with KFC’s Zinger in the driver’s seat.
“The Stratollite is spearheading a new market for data collection of our planet, the environment and human activity from a perch at the very edge of space,” says Jane Poynter, World View founder and CEO, in a statement. “This next mission will be our first attempt to really push the envelope with a flight designed to test, for the very first time, all the integrated critical systems needed to bring this Stratollite online for commercial markets.”
KFC unveiled the Zinger spicy chicken sandwich to U.S. audiences April 24. Already a hit in more than 120 countries (Australia alone sells more than 22 million Zingers each year), the brand is banking on big things.
If exposure was the roadblock, this trip into the unknown should do it.
KFC and creative agency Wieden+Kennedy approached World View about the idea. World View says it saw the opportunity as a chance to demonstrate its technology to a mass audience, “while simultaneously financing a portion of the vehicle’s development program. Thus, the World View and KFC partnership was born, aiming to usher in a new era of stratospheric discovery and chicken sandwich space exploration.”
Stratollites have the capability of carrying a wide variety of commercial payloads, the company says. Everything from sensors to telescopes to communications arrays. This could help scientists identify and track severe weather, provide WiFi, and assist first responders during natural disasters.
Previous test flight have lasted just 6—12 hours in length. This KFC journey is scheduled for four days. The solar-powered balloons, according to the company, can fly up to 28.5 miles above the planet.
“The Stratollite was created to deliver more routine and meaningful access to space for all, and this mission allows us to give edge-of-space access to a commercial customer that would previously deem a project like this unimaginable,” says Taber MacCallum, World View co-founder and chief technology officer, in a statement. “Sure, this whole chicken sandwich payload is a bit funny. But, KFC gets to embark upon a one-of-a-kind marketing experiment, while we get to pursue our first multi-day shakedown cruise in the stratosphere. It’s a win for all. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to creatively bridge the divide between our industry and global brands that carry a more mainstream audience.”
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