Autumn Glory apple relaunches into space

Autumn Glory apple relaunches into space

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The relaunch of the Autumn Glory apple was the most literal kind of product launch you could have.

For the second consecutive year, Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash., marked the launch of its 2018 Autumn Glory apple season by sending one its apples into the stratosphere aboard a weather balloon, according to a news release.

For the first time, the release said grade school students from three local science and technology programs participated: Wide Hollow Elementary School’s program for advanced learning; third-grade classes from East Valley and Wide Hollow elementary schools; and a first-grade class from Ahtanum Valley Elementary and the Yakima Valley Technological Skills Center.

Led by information technology enthusiasts Steve Potter and Jeff Johnston, Superfresh Growers team members designed and built the balloon system.

Some participation was unplanned. Another technology-intensive company, Puget Sound Energy, joined in on the action by recovering the payload, which landed on its Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility and Renewable Energy Center near Kittitas, Wash., according to the release.

The release said the balloon voyage started in an Autumn Glory apple orchard in Selah, Wash., where an apple was picked and placed onto the balloon’s payload platform. Two cameras documented the 28-mile trip, which reached an altitude of 105,377.3 feet. As expected, the balloon ruptured at its apex and came back to earth with a parachute.

The Autumn Glory apple launched into space from its orchard in Washington.
The Autumn Glory apple launched into space from its orchard in Washington. (Domex Superfresh Growers)

Superfresh Growers CEO Robert Kershaw conceived the project three years ago.

“We originally pursued this project to have some fun and generate a little publicity for Autumn Glory apple,” Kershaw said in the release. “Customers and friends really enjoyed watching the video last year and learning about the creativity and energy of our team. This year, the team took it to another level by involving kids in our community who are passionate about science and will someday be leaders in agriculture, which increasingly relies on technology and the people who operate it.”

Domex Superfresh Growers owns the Autumn Glory apple and holds the exclusive worldwide rights to grow and sell the variety. 

“As with this balloon, it has been fun to watch the trajectory of Autumn Glory apple,” Kershaw said in the release. “Demand grew dramatically again last season, and this year continues to compound.”